Since the early days of the internet, spam has been a persistent and chronic problem. Gary Thuerk of Digital Equipment Corp (DEC) sent the first unsolicited mass e-mailing (later dubbed SPAM) on May 1, 1978, advertising the VAX T-series to 400 of the then 2600 ARPAnet users.
The SMTP email protocol, which we still use today, evolved from these early ARPANET mail protocols (Postel RFC788 and RFC821) in the early 1980s, and has changed very little since then. The SMTP protocol has had little to no security built in since its introduction, and when used to send email, it offers little defense against spoofing of email addresses or servers. However, several new tools have recently been added to the email security arsenal to protect against these threats.
SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are all similar features for detecting spoofed or spam emails, but they vary slightly.
SPF (RFC 7208)
SPF (Sender Policy Framework) specifies a list of servers that are permitted to send email for a particular domain using a DNS entry. Its security is based on the fact that only authorized domain administrators have access to the DNS zone records for the domain.
DKIM (RFC 6376)
DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) differs from SPF in that it verifies that the receiving server is allowed to send mail for the domain and that the quality of the mail has not changed since it was sent. Using DKIM keys stored in DNS and DKIM uses a public/private key signing mechanism.
The following steps are applied to the email process with DKIM:
Sending servers create a signature with their DKIM private key and insert it into the email header (DKIM-Signature).
Email recipients look up the DKIM public key in the sending domain’s DNS TXT record, which is then used to verify the DKIM-Signature attached to the email.
If the email body content is modified, the email signature will no longer match and validation will fail.
This process verifies that the email content has not been tampered with, as well as that the email was sent from a domain-approved server.
DMARC (RFC 7489)
DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) incorporates elements of both SPF and DKIM by stating a simple DMARC policy that can be used in both tools, as well as allowing the domain administrator to set an address that can be used to submit information about forged mail message statistics gathered by receivers against the same domain, for example:
Relative levels of spoofing of your domain(s).
Who is spoofing email purporting to be from your domain?
Does that mean your spam problem is resolved?
In an ideal world, all email servers would use these techniques, and SPAM would be significantly reduced. However, since making a mistake in configuring the necessary DNS TXT records can result in the loss of important emails, some domain owners have been hesitant to implement the methods.
Despite this, major email domain owners such as Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have implemented these approaches.
SPAM can still be transmitted via compromised accounts and servers, shared hosting email servers, and misconfigured servers, so multilevel email protection is the only way to ensure a clean and safe email feed.
How effective are DMARC, SPF, and DKIM?
These tools will undoubtedly have a significant effect on the fight against SPAM, and the more domains that use them, the better. However, caution should be exercised during DMARC implementation to ensure that all settings are right before going live. SPF, for example, allows you to set the changes in a test mode, which means that recipient domains will not block any mail that fails the test.
ProgIST believes in protecting both your and your clients’ email rights and privacy. ProDMARC helps you implement DMARC authentication to stop fraudsters from misusing your domain. Get Started with top-class cybersecurity solutions for your business at ProgIST.
It is a well-known fact that in most of the cyber-frauds, the cyber criminals impersonate trusted identities, mainly because the chances of the victim falling for such emails are high. These attacks are commonly called as email spoofing.
Let us look at some quick facts about email spoofing attacks:
Over 70% of fraudulent emails are directly sent from a domain name of the victim organisation.
According to a latest email security risk assessment, there is a surge in email spoofing attacks by over 22% as compared to previous quarter.
These attack types are highly sophisticated and it requires us to take a multi-layered approach to detect and stop such attacks
Types of Impersonation Attacks
The email spoofing attacks most commonly used for targeting the dependent parties of the organisation like their customers, partners and associates. The victims might be able to differentiate such emails from legitimate emails and might fall for such attacks
Another major attack exploiting identity theft is CEO/CFO frauds. Here the employees are tricked to make payments to fraudsters account or share confidential information of the organisation.
The only way to protect your dependent parties from falling for such attacks is to protect your mailing domain with Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) security control. It works by prohibiting anybody except expressly approved senders from using an organization’s domain (including internal and third-party mailing systems) to send an email. Additionally, DMARC reports also helps you to identify and appropriately configure all your legitimate email senders and also to visualize the threat targeting the organisation’s domain.
How does ProDMARC help you in DMARC journey?
ProDMARC is built on a mission to achieve a secure and spoofing free email channels across all of internet space; makes reporting of DMARC, providing volumes and trends of the outbound mails including that of phishing campaigns and yield confirmation for reliability of the outbound mails in terms of SPF, DKIM & DMARC conformance; smooth and uncomplicated. It helps in gaining visibility on your email domain getting used on your behalf by third parties. It’s important to gain visibility of unauthorized emails which might be getting sent from your brand; ensures that emails do not get blocked due to misconfigurations, making the best use of the customer email communication; generates actionable threat intelligence feeds for your security and transaction monitoring systems helping to block targeted attacks proactively and also helps in identification of lookalike domains for your brand.
To summarize, ProDMARC helps improve customer trust in email communications.
Email is a fantastic way for companies to advertise their brand and gain customers. Email, on the other hand, aids the dissemination of spam, phishing, malware, viruses, and other forms of fraud because it is difficult to say whether the sender is who they claim to be.
A new email authentication standard was adopted by email senders and receivers to help email senders deliver valid emails to recipients while also blocking phishing and fraud messages.
What is DMARC?
DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance. It is an email validation system designed to protect your company’s email domain from being used for email spoofing, phishing scams, and other cybercrimes. Its aim is to prevent email spoofing, phishing scams, and other malware from being sent from the company’s email domain.
SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Defined Mail) are two existing email authentication techniques that DMARC uses (Domain Keys Identified Mail). DMARC introduces a crucial feature: reporting. When a domain owner adds a DMARC record to their DNS record, they’ll be able to see who’s sending an email on their behalf. This data may be used to obtain more specific information about the email channel.
A domain owner can gain control over emails sent on his behalf using this information. DMARC can be used to shield the domains from phishing and spoofing attacks.
Why Does Your Business Need DMARC?
There is no medium with a broader scope than email, which has nearly 5 billion accounts worldwide. As a result, cybercriminals choose this channel for their malicious purposes. Despite the fact that improved security measures have been implemented in recent years to secure this platform, crime continues to rise year after year. 95% of all cyber-attacks and data breaches involve emails.
DMARC adds value in this field. DMARC not only gives you complete visibility into your email channels but also renders phishing attacks noticeable. DMARC is more powerful: DMARC will reduce the impact of phishing and malware attacks, prevent spoofing, protect against brand misuse and scams, and protect business email from being compromised. DMARC Check enables organizations to deploy DMARC and simplify their DMARC setup.
Where Does DMARC Help?
Malicious emails sent on their behalf threaten organizations and their clients; DMARC will stop these attacks. A company may gain insights into their email channel using DMARC. Organizations will focus on deploying and executing a DMARC policy based on the information provided.
Organizations are shielded from the following threats when the DMARC policy is set to p=reject:
Phishing on customers of the organization
Brand abuse & scams
Malware and Ransomware attacks
Employees from spear phishing and CEOs from fraud
Organizations will gain complete insight into their email channel using ProDMARC. Since companies could historically only learn about phishing attacks after they had already occurred, DMARC’s ability to gain complete visibility into the email channel is a significant benefit. It is possible to gain insight into phishing attacks using DMARC. Customers will be told ahead of time in this manner, resulting in a more positive experience. This way, customers are aware of these attacks in advance.
DMARC in Practice
DMARC’s primary aim is to identify and avoid email spoofing. Phishing scams, for example, use bank domains to send emails on their behalf. Customers of that bank believe they have received a legitimate email informing them that their bank card is no longer valid. The connection you are supposed to click will take you to a fake website. This website is exactly the same as the real website and logging in will provide cybercriminals the possibility of using your credentials.
Originally, email authentication strategies such as DKIM and SPF were used to secure the domains from such scams. Cybercriminals, on the other hand, can get around these safeguards. DMARC will establish a connection between SPF and DKIM in order to completely protect your domain and email channel. When you add DMARC to your DNS record, you gain control over your email channel.
On a regular basis, ISPs can provide Aggregate (RUA) and Forensic (RUF) DMARC reports, which can be sent to the email address mentioned in your DMARC log. Aggregate Reports (RUA) and Forensic DMARC Reports (RUF) are the two forms of DMARC reports available:
Aggregate DMARC reports (RUA) are
Sent on a daily basis
Provide an overview of email traffic
Include all IP addresses that have attempted to transmit email to a receiver using your domain name
Forensic DMARC reports (RUF) are
Only sent for failures
Include original message headers
May include the original message
SPF, DKIM, and DMARC outcomes can all be monitored and analyzed using ProDMARC’s dashboard. Adding a DMARC record to your DNS isn’t enough to keep your domains secure. DMARC works for three different DMARC rules, allowing you to choose what happens to your addresses. The ‘none’ policy is only used to gather data and keep track of your latest email channel.
There are two more DMARC policies to enforce your email channel. The DMARC ‘quarantine‘ policy would send a malicious email to the recipient’s spam folder, while the ‘reject’ policy will not deliver the email at all.
Why is DMARC Important?
To tie all of these, DMARC provides the following benefits to domain owners:
Prevention of fraud emails
You can tell email receivers to reject any email that appears to come from your domain but fails the DMARC check if you use DMARC and ensure all of your valid email sources follow DMARC alignment. DMARC is an anti-phishing control that has been used to prevent massive quantities of email fraud.
Simplified delivery to the recipient’s Inbox
DMARC makes it easy for email recipients to recognize a letter. To combat spam, email recipients devote a significant amount of time, money, and resources to the development of technology that filters out unwanted messages. The DMARC implementation helps email receivers streamline their filtering rules, easily identify and distribute emails. If an email passes DMARC authentication, it means it truly comes from the domain displayed in the From address.
Protection of the domain and brand reputation
You can detect unauthorized senders using your domain by reviewing DMARC reports, and you can tell recipients to reject emails sent from your domain if they fail the DMARC search. This will reduce the number of unsolicited emails from your domain, which will damage your sender’s credibility, brand, and ROI.
Email traffic control
The use of DMARC gives you complete control over your email sources, ensuring that they only deliver valid messages to your subscribers. You can verify whether your valid sending sources pass the SPF and DKIM checks, and you can resolve any authentication problems that arise.
DMARC allows businesses to monitor how their partners send emails on their behalf to ensure that everything is sent correctly. This lowers the chances of your sending IP/domain being blacklisted for sending spam emails.
Easier email visibility and brand recognition
You will use the BIMI standard to show your logo next to your messages in the recipient’s inbox if you use DMARC enforcement. BIMI assists the recipient in recognizing your emails in a crowded inbox and ensuring that the email was sent by you and not by anyone posing as you.
The BIMI standard is currently only endorsed by Yahoo and Gmail’s mailbox provider.
For those concerned about email deliverability, DMARC has become a “must-have.” If your emails are not DMARC compliant, they can compete for a user’s Inbox with spam and fraud emails.
ProDMARC For Protecting Emails
ProDMARC offers user-friendly DMARC services as well as professional guidance to help you get to a reject policy as quickly as possible. ProDMARC is a DMARC email protection and SaaS solution that allows businesses to handle complex DMARC deployments with ease. The solution offers 360-degree visibility and governance across all email channels. Contact us to improve your email authentication services through ProDMARC.