Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) is a standard designed to align Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) message authentication methods for authenticating an email sender’s domain name. This protocol is beneficial for both the mail sender and receiver. It provides a consistent framework for authors, operators, and consumers of these email authentication mechanisms to work together in reducing email spam. A DMARC analyzer helps you to detect when an unauthorized third party is misusing your domain, either by spoofing legitimate email or conducting phishing campaigns.
In terms of advantages, DMARC has a little something to offer for the sender as well as the receiver of the emails. Let’s find out what they are:
What is the difference between authenticating a mail sender and receiver
For sending and receiving emails, there are two different authentication procedures.
The first one is the process of verifying the identity of the sender and receiver. This takes place in order to keep track of who is sending an email and who is receiving it. The second one is verifying that the email address belongs to someone who has permission to send and receive emails from that account.
To verify your identity, you will need to provide personal information such as an ID number or passport number. You can also verify your address by providing a piece of mail with your name and address on it or by signing up for a free email account through Gmail or Yahoo! Mail.
What are the sender’s address and receiver’s address?
A sender’s address and receiver’s address are two different things, but they’re both important for email.
The sender’s address is the email address of the person who sent you an email. You can find it on the top-right corner of an email, where it says “To:”. It usually has the following format: [email protected]
The receiver’s address is the email address of the person who received your email. It’s usually somewhere at the bottom, after everything else. It might be at the end of your email or right next to where you sent it.
A basic overview of the email sending system
Envelope and message
A letter is essentially two parts: the envelope and the letter itself. The envelope is used in email server routing, similar to the paper envelopes for postage. The envelope includes the address of the sender and the address of the return address of the mailer. Inside the envelope are letters that contain addresses to both the recipient and the recipient. The return email address in the envelope is different in appearance from the address of the sender on an e-mail.
Email addresses and SPF
SPF provides a mechanism to block spam by giving the domain owner the option to set the permission to send emails to a domain. SPF uses return-path verification: when an email gets sent from a certain domain, it checks whether the return path is “valid.” If it isn’t, then the email was probably forged and should be ignored. It’s important to note that SPF only works on MX records—it doesn’t protect against malicious users sending out emails from your own account or those of other trusted contacts.
Email addresses and DMARC
Emails from a domain aren’t always originating from where they say they are. This is why we need domain alignment. Domain alignment makes sure that emails are delivered to their intended recipients and stops those who are not. In order to do this, you need to enable DMARC for your domains.
The idea behind DMARC is that you can have an email sender authenticate their email for you in order to make sure it’s legitimate and what you expect it to be. The result is that if someone sends an email from one domain and claims it was sent from another domain, your email provider will know what really happened: your recipient doesn’t have access to that domain’s mail servers.
Advantages for Email Senders
Enhanced Email Deliverability
One of the primary advantages that email authentication protocols like DMARC present to domain owners (email senders) is an improved email deliverability rate. DMARC ensures that your sender’s legitimate emails do not get unnecessarily marked as spam or blocked out of the receiver’s inbox. This provides a better chance of your marketing emails being read, enabling your potential customers to notice you more.
Reduced Impersonation Threats
Impersonation attacks are very common for online businesses, whether you are an established enterprise or a startup venture. It can leave a lasting impression on your customers, impact your brand’s credibility and lead to the loss of clients. DMARC protects your brand name from being used for malicious purposes, through the process of identity verification. This sustains your goodwill and reputation in the long run.
DMARC Reporting and Monitoring
Apart from identity protection, DMARC also tenders to a reporting mechanism that helps domain owners stay abreast of any impersonation attempts made on their domain. They can keep track of emails failing to get delivered due to failures in authentication checks, allowing them to cut down on their threat-response time. All they need to do is configure a DMARC report analyzer to view their reports easily across a single pane of glass.
Advantages for Email Receivers
Protection against Phishing Attacks
DMARC isn’t just a safety batch for the sender of the email, but also the receiver. We already know that a spoofing attack usually ends with phishing. The receiver of a fake email is at a high risk of falling prey to phishing attacks that aim to steal their banking credentials, and/or other sensitive information. DMARC helps reduce the risk of email phishing drastically.
Read the latest phishing trends report by the APWG.
Protection Against Ransomware
Sometimes fake emails contain links to download ransomware into the receiver’s system. This can lead to email receivers being held hostage at the mercy of threat actors who ask for hefty ransoms. When the receiver is an employee of the impersonated organization, the stakes for the company are even higher. DMARC acts as a primary line of defense against ransomware, preventing email receivers from being held hostage.
Promotes a Safe Email Experience
DMARC helps promote a safe email experience for the sender and receiver alike. It helps both parties engage in a lucid and unhindered exchange of information without the fear of being tricked or impersonated by cyber attackers.
DMARC for Mail Sender and Receiver: a concise implementation guide
To ensure you are configuring DMARC correctly for your mail sender and receiver, you need an action plan in place which goes something like this:
- Make sure you are including all your third-party IP addresses in your SPF record
- Avoid setting up multiple SPF or DMARC records for a single domain
- Shift to DMARC enforcement by configuring a DMARC analyzer to prevent legitimate emails from failing delivery while still stopping spoofing attempts
- Make sure your email sender’s reputation isn’t poor due to increased spam alerts
To avail of DMARC services for your mail sender and receiver, get your free DMARC trial today!