DMARC Explained: DMARC is an email authentication protocol that helps protect against email fraud and phishing attacks. It allows email receivers to verify that incoming emails are legitimate and from authorized senders and enables senders to receive reports on email delivery and potential abuse.
Implementing DMARC can enhance email security and prevent unauthorized use of a domain for fraudulent purposes.
DMARC Explained: Enhancing Email Security Against Fraud and Phishing Attacks
In today’s digital age, email communication is an essential part of our daily lives, personally and professionally. However, with the increasing reliance on email as a primary means of communication, it has also become a preferred target for cybercriminals. Email fraud and phishing attacks are two of the most common threats individuals and businesses face.
According to phishing email statistics, roughly 1.2% of all emails sent are malicious, translating to 3.4 billion phishing emails per day. Around 33 million records are predicted to be stolen by 2023, with a ransomware or phishing attack occurring every 11 seconds.
Email authentication is a crucial security measure that helps protect users from email fraud and phishing attacks. By verifying the sender’s identity and ensuring the message’s integrity, email authentication makes it more difficult for cybercriminals to impersonate legitimate senders.
DMARC Explained: What is it?
But what exactly is DMARC, and how does it give commercial email systems an extra degree of security?
Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) is a technical standard that helps protect email senders and receivers against sophisticated attacks that might lead to an email data breach.
HMRC estimates that the number of phishing emails sent from their domain decreased by 500 million in just 1.5 years after the implementation of DMARC.
Domain owners can use DMARC email security to explain their authentication methods and indicate the steps to be followed when an email fails authentication. DMARC also allows receivers to report email that fails authentication.
By using DMARC, you can:
- Prevent your domain name from being spoofed or abused by spammers and phishers.
- Reduce your risk of being victimized by malicious actors who send fraudulent emails purporting to be from your organization.
- Improve deliverability rates for legitimate messages sent by your organization.
- Empower end users to identify fraudulent emails pretending to be from your company quickly.
DMARC Explained: How DMARC Works to Secure Your Email Domain
DMARC authentication requires SPF authentication and alignment, followed by DKIM authentication and DKIM alignment. Senders can use DMARC policies to instruct receivers what to do when a message fails DMARC.
The domain owner can implement one of three DMARC policies:
- none (the message is sent to the recipient, and the DMARC report is sent to the domain owner),
- quarantine (moves message to quarantine folder), or
- reject (not deliverable at all).
Starting with the “none” DMARC policy is a good idea. As a result, all legitimate emails can be authenticated by the domain owner. The domain owner receives DMARC reports to detect and validate all legitimate emails.
Assume the domain owner has identified all genuine senders and resolved any authentication issues. If that happens, they can implement a “reject” policy to prevent phishing, corporate email compromise, and other types of email fraud.
Email receivers can ensure that their secure email gateway enforces DMARC policies on behalf of domain owners. As a result, employees will be protected from inbound email threats.
The Power of DMARC: Enhancing Email Security and Deliverability
The following are some of the top benefits of implementing DMARC:
Enhanced Email Security
DMARC helps strengthen email security by ensuring all messages from an organization’s domain using an authenticated infrastructure. This prevents unauthorized parties from sending emails on behalf of your company, which can lead to a loss of trust with customers or cause them to delete your emails without reading them.
Protection Against Email Fraud and Phishing Attacks
DMARC helps safeguard your brand from fraudsters impersonating your company to steal sensitive customer information. It also protects against phishing attacks that use spoofed email addresses to fool recipients into revealing personal or financial information.
Prevention of Domain Spoofing and Brand Abuse
By implementing DMARC on your domain, you can prevent others from sending emails without permission or impersonating you to send spam or malware.
Increased Transparency for Your Customers
With DMARC in place, customers who receive legitimate emails from you will see a message indicating whether the message was authenticated by DKIM or SPF instead of just seeing “Sent via SMTP.”
DMARC compared to SPF and DKIM
DMARC is an email authentication protocol that helps prevent domain spoofing and email-based attacks by providing a comprehensive policy framework for email authentication.
DMARC builds on existing email authentication technologies, such as SPF and DKIM, by providing a domain-level policy that allows email receivers to verify the authenticity of incoming emails and enables domain owners to receive feedback on the delivery and potential abuse of their messages.
DMARC is considered more effective than SPF and DKIM alone because it provides a clear and enforceable policy that allows domain owners to monitor and control their email domains’ use more effectively.
Best Practices for DMARC Implementation and Maintenance
While DMARC is relatively new and gaining popularity, many organizations use it to protect their brands and reduce their risk of becoming victims of phishing scams. There are several best practices for implementing DMARC policies at your organization:
Start with a Monitor-only Policy
With the first step of DMARC, the “monitor” phase, you’ll be able to see what happens when a message is sent without any policy applied to it. This can help identify potential issues before changing your email infrastructure or sending practices. If you find legitimate emails being rejected, you can adjust during this phase to ensure they aren’t incorrectly flagged as spam.
Identify and Authenticate Legitimate Email Sources
Identify which domains send a legitimate email on your behalf and use those domains as authorized sender domains in your DMARC policy. This can be done via SPF, as described above, or through an IP reputation service that examines IP address logs to determine if an IP has sent spam or phishing emails in the past.
By combining these methods, you can be sure that only legitimate email sources are sending messages on your behalf.
Gradually Increase Policy Stringency
Once you have confirmed that all of your legitimate senders are signing their emails with DKIM signatures and valid SPF records, you can gradually increase policy stringency until your domain is protected with a strict policy that rejects all emails lacking authentication evidence.
Keep DNS Records Up-to-date and Accurate
When implementing new technology like DMARC, avoiding making any mistakes with your DNS records is essential. Ensure that it’s accurate so that all of your domains are listed correctly on every major ISP’s DNS record when it comes time for them to check your policy against their records for each domain name listed in their system.
DMAR Explained in a Nutshell
DMARC explained in simple terms, can help domain owners and email receivers better understand the value of the protocol and how it can be implemented to secure their email communication.
Building on existing email authentication technologies such as these provides a comprehensive policy framework that enables domain owners to monitor and control their email domains’ use more effectively.
With the increasing reliance on email as a primary means of communication in today’s digital age, the need for robust email authentication measures has become more critical than ever.