If you're a business owner or a cybersecurity professional, understanding how DMARC works and why it's important can help safeguard your organization.
This guide will discuss:
- What is DMARC?
- Why is DMARC important?
- Ways DMARC helps keep your business safe
What Is DMARC?
DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance. It is an email authentication, policy, and reporting protocol to detect and prevent malicious email activity.
Implementing DMARC helps to block or quarantine suspicious emails sent from your domain name, ensuring that only legitimate messages are delivered to your customers.
Why Is DMARC Important?
Stats indicate that 75% of cyberattacks start with an email, and 95% of business emails suffered a loss between $250 and $984,855 in 2021.
Implementing the DMARC policy is essential to protect your brand, customers, and employees from malicious phishing emails. It also ensures that all messages sent from your domain are authenticated. But regardless of the benefits, a whopping 79.7% of businesses in 2019 still didn’t use DMARC, leaving them at risk of targeted attacks.
Ways DMARC Helps Keep Your Business Safe
With the increased spear-phishing attacks, organizations must take the extra step to protect their data and customers. DMARC helps to do this in the following ways:
Prevents Email Spoofing and Phishing
Email spoofing is the forgery of an email header to make the message appear as if it was sent from a legitimate sender. It aims to steal sensitive information such as usernames and passwords.
DMARC also helps to detect and prevent phishing attacks and improve email security across the Internet. Built on pre-existing protocols like SPF and DKIM, DMARC allows domain owners to identify and reject unauthenticated, unauthorized, and illegitimate emails. This is often the cause if you ever wonder why emails are going to spam.
Email Message Authentication
SPF, or Sender Policy Framework, verifies that the email server is authorized to do so. This helps to detect and block emails spoofing your domain name.
DKIM, or DomainKeys Identified Mail, is an email authentication protocol that encrypts the header of a message and allows for comparison between the sender’s domain and the message’s cryptographic signature.
This ensures that email headers are not modified during transit.
While on the topic of email message authentication, it is also vital to understand soft bounce vs. hard bounce to improve deliverability and the sender’s reputation.
Takes Enforcement Options in Case of Failed SPF or DKIM Checks
DMARC also allows users to specify what should happen in case of a failed SPF or DKIM check. This can be set up as an actionable policy, which includes 'reject' or 'quarantine' options.
The 'reject' policy instructs the email server to reject any emails that fail the DMARC check and don't pass either SPF or DKIM. This helps to stop malicious emails from entering the recipient’s inbox. You can use the email warmup strategy to prevent your emails from ending up in spam folders.
The 'quarantine' policy instructs the email server to mark emails that fail the DMARC check as suspicious and move them to a quarantine folder. This helps to protect users from malicious emails by moving them away from their primary inbox.
What You Need to Do Before Setting Up DMARC
You have to set up SPF and DKIM authentication before you can set up a DMARC policy.
If you don't set up SPF or DKIM, your DMARC setup will be incomplete and won't protect you against malicious emails. SPF and DKIM should be enabled for 48 hours before you can start setting up a DMARC policy. This allows your changes to propagate across the internet and ensures your setup is secure.
Resources on How to Set Up DMARC With a Domain Name Provider
To use your domain name for your email, you must set up some DNS records. Fortunately, most domain name providers offer services to help you set up DMARC.
Below are some of the best resources for setting up DMARC with a domain name provider:
Here's how you can set up MX records:
For Google workspace.
For Office 365.
Here's how you can set up SPF:
For Office 365.
Here are resources for setting up DKIM:
For Google/GSuite, find instructions here.
For Office 365, find instructions here.
For Zoho, find instructions here.
Make sure to use your service provider-recommended DKIM Selector.
- For Zoho, use "Zoho" as the selector.
- For Office 365, use “Microsoft” as the selector.
- For Google/GSuite, use "Google" as the selector.
- For other providers, use "default."
Once you’ve set up SPF and DKIM, you can set up DMARC.
You can also use a third-party tool like Postmark to set up and manage your DMARC configuration.
DMARC is a critical security protocol that helps protect your domain from spoofing and phishing attacks.
- DMARC prevents spoofing and phishing by verifying that emails sent from your domain have passed SPF and DKIM checks.
- It offers email message authentication to ensure that your organization’s emails come from a legitimate source.
- Before using DMARC, you must set up SPF and DKIM authentication protocols to verify emails sent from a particular domain.
- You can use your domain name provider to set up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. Make sure you enable SPF and DKIM 48 hours before enabling DMARC.
- You can also use a third-party tool like Postmark to set up and manage your DMARC configuration.
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