What is DMARC? The Top 5 Benefits of DMARC!
Nowadays it is normal for us to walk in the store and see security cameras. We know that shops have alarms and anti-shoplifting systems. But how come so many of us still don’t realize how important it is to have the same kind of security measures when it comes to our cyber safety? Every email marketing campaign aims to engage customers with the brand and today to become a brand people trust one must create a safe environment for both the company and the audience. That is why today we are going to talk about the most effective protection protocol – DMARC.
What is DMARC?
DMARC stands for “Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance” and it’s an email authentication, policy, and reporting protocol. In simpler terms, DMARC allows you to prevent unauthorized use of your email domain and protect your email recipients from phishing, spoofing, and other email scams that may use your brand recognition to get read. It is like a door frame detector for your email: monitors what is coming in and out.
DMARC works on the basis of two other protocols: SPF and DKIM, so to proceed with DMARC make sure that those two work properly. Together the three ingredients create a wonderful authentication mix for securing you and your clients.
These are the steps an email undergoes if you have DMARC installed:
- Mail server completes the SPF and DKIM alignment.
- If the check is complete with no problems, the server applies DMARC policy and defines what to do with the email.
- After deciding on what to do with the email, DMARC sends a report with the conclusion on what to do with this particular email as well as with all other emails sent from this domain.
How does DMARC policy decide what to do with every email?
It provides three options on what actions to take for an incoming email: none (nothing), quarantine or reject. These options have to be included in the DMARC record.
Here’s what each of the DMARC policies means:
- none: do nothing with the email; in other words, as if DMARC was not installed. You should use this policy especially in the beginning to collect data about the authentication of an email;
- quarantine: accept the email but treat it very carefully. Quarantined email may be considered suspicious or marked as spam. In any case, it will not get to the recipient’s inbox;
- reject: email gets rejected with no questions asked.
To understand what to do with the DMARC policies let’s answer the question: What is a DMARC record?
DMARC record is the implementation of the DMARC policy. The beauty of DMARC is the simplicity of deployment. All that needs to be done is adding a TXT record to the DNS records. This TXT record is called a DMARC record and it contains your policy settings.
Now, you have deployed DMARC: created policy settings and installed the TXT record to the DNS. What comes next is you begin receiving reports.
DMARC reports provide you with important information: unauthorized use of your domain, email authentication, potential email threats, etc. There are two types of reports: aggregate and forensic. Let’s look at each of them to understand how to get the best out of the information at your disposal.
- Aggregate reports
Aggregate reports are XML files that contain information on all emails regardless of whether they have failed the DMARC authentication or not. They provide statistical data so that you could see the big picture of messages from a particular domain. The downside is that it might be very confusing to look at the aggregate report because it was created to be machine-read.
- Forensic reports
Unlike aggregated reports, forensic reports are more specific – they show messages that failed the DMARC authentication. They also provide details about subject lines, URLs included in the messages, failed SPF and DKIM authentication problems.
What are the Benefits of DMARC?
If you haven’t deployed DMARC yet, now is a great time to start. Here is a quick list of five benefits you can get from having this email protocol in place:
Benefit #1: DMARC Reports
DMARC enables you to receive reports about email messages that are being sent on behalf of your domain from all across the internet. These reports will reveal great insights, such as:
- Who is sending from your domains (both legal and illegal sources)
- How many emails are sent by each source
- What percentage of messages sent by legal sources are being properly authenticated
- Which sources are sending unauthenticated emails
- Which authentication method (SPF, DKIM, DMARC) is broken
These reports give you a complete overview of how your email domains are used and how you can better improve your email communications.
Benefit #2: Control
DMARC allows you full control over emails sent from your domains. If anyone starts abusing your domain, you will instantly see it in the DMARC report. If any of your legal sources start sending unauthenticated emails, DMARC reports will show it so you can correct the authentication issues.
The report includes the volume of emails sent from your domains. So if you notice an unusual increase in sending volume, you can check if it was sent from a legitimate source or if its from a spoofing attack.
Benefit #3: DMARC Email Security
Since the beginning, email users have had to deal with spam, phishing, and spoofed messages. Organizations had very little control over their domains to prevent domain impersonation.
DMARC actually solves this problem. You can instruct receiving email systems, through a DMARC Policy, about what to do when a message that says it’s coming from your domain but is not properly authenticated. You can tell mailbox providers to reject any message sent from your domain that didn’t pass a DMARC check. This way, you protect your domain from being spoofed and protect your email recipients from spammers and scammers that pretend to be you.
Benefit #4: Visibility
DMARC enables access to the BIMI (or Brand Indicators for Message Identification) standard. It is a new email standard that is being adopted and supported by more and more email providers. Currently, only Yahoo and Gmail support BIMI.
BIMI provides email senders yet another way to stand out in their recipient’s Inbox by displaying their logo next to the message. This gives your email instant brand recognition and credibility. You can deploy BIMI if you have strong email authentication and apply the “p=quarantine” or “p=reject” DMARC policy to unauthenticated messages.
Benefit #5: Deliverability
DMARC reinforces SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail). If the message is DMARC aligned, it is always prioritized with regards to email placement. Email receiving systems have more trust in email messages that have strong authentication in place.
If you implement DMARC enforcement with BIMI, you will have better chances at deliverability than other senders who do not have it. Your recipients will then be able to trust that the message is from you and be more willing to open and respond to the email. It will be a good signal to the mailbox provider that your messages are wanted and deserve a place in the Inbox.
Why is DMARC Important?
Unfortunately, many companies around the world still fail to understand the importance of DMARC policy for the security of their brand and customers. That is one of the reasons why email phishing and spoofing rates are still high.
It is important to understand that people involved in cybercrime do not target only the biggest companies in the world and anyone can fall victim of their scams. So if you think your business is secured without DMARC, we suggest you reconsider.
What is happening without DMARC:
- Recipients can’t identify a legitimate company’s message from a fake one;
- ESPs don’t have enough security to make a correct decision on which email is harmful and which is real;
- Senders stay unaware of the unauthorized activity on the domain they are sending their emails from.
All this mess leads to theft of passwords, bank accounts, credit cards, identities and more. It also adds up to billions of dollars losses in total.
The good news is: the worldwide statistics (according to dmarc.org) shows that the number of DMARC policies in 2019 increased by about 300%.
Both SPF and DKIM protocols have their weak sides, and DMARC gathers results of their authentications to provide the best level of safety you can get nowadays.
Getting Started With DMARC
Now that we have established the benefits of DMARC, how exactly can you take advantage of them? DMARC reports are sent in XML files; email senders may have difficulty deciphering and comprehending the data. We have made a tool that can do it for you.
The GlockApps DMARC Analytics tool receives your DMARC reports and presents the data in a user-friendly format. Quickly see your authorized and unauthorized mail streams and the sources sending DMARC compliant and non-compliant emails.
You can activate the DMARC Analytics trial in your account and start receiving DMARC data today.
Read more: How to Deploy DMARC Monitoring