In today’s digital landscape, implementing DMARC records to tackle the rising threat of cyberattacks is of utmost importance. These attacks jeopardise sensitive information and put entities interacting with your company at risk. However, you can eradicate this risk by implementing the DMARC record. These records act as robust shields, instructing recipient servers on handling emails that fail authentication checks. By quarantining or rejecting suspicious emails, it provides a much-needed layer of defence.
By Cian Fitzpatrick | 16th November, 2023
A DMARC record has two main purposes. They are:
It guides the recipient server on what to do if the email fails authentication checks like:
Creating a DMARC record ensures servers can distinguish between legitimate and fake emails. As a result, it protects against various security threats, such as phishing, spoofing, and spamming.
Before getting started, we need to learn about DMARC TXT Record tags.
It represents the protocol version. For example, v=DMARC1
It is the percentage of messages subjected to filtering. It ranges from 0 to 100.
It indicates the reporting URL for forensic reports.
It indicates the reporting URL for aggregate reports
It is the policy for the organisational domain. It includes three types of policy.
Policy for a subdomain of the organisational domain.
Alignment mode for DKIM.
Alignment mode for SPF
Get email samples for messages that fail SPF and DKIM. You can choose four values;
“0” if SPF and DKIM fail (Default)
“1” if SPF or DKIM fails
“d” DKIM failure
“S” SPF failure
Typically, DMARC records consist of plain text, a list of DMARC tags segregated by semicolons. It consists of atleast three components, but you can add other optional tags as per need. It’s necessary to place “v” and “p” tags at the beginning; other tags can follow any order.
To get in-depth insight, let’s break down the example of a DMARC record and learn it piece by piece.
“v=DMARC1; p=none; rua=mailto:email@example.com”
We have three mandatory tags, v, p and rua, with the values DMARC1, none and mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Based on specific requirements or needs, you can use other tags like pct, ruf, fo, etc.
If your message fails the authentication check, you can specify what actions to take in the policy(p) tag. There are 3 types of policy you can choose from:
This policy doesn’t give any protection. But emails are constantly monitored. Generally, during the initial implementation process of DMARC, emails are monitored. Gradually, it is upgraded to quarantine and finally reaches the reject stage.
It places emails that fail authentication checks in the spam or quarantine folder.
It immediately rejects emails that fail the authentication check.
It protects against fraudulent mail by not giving a single chance to reach the recipient’s email.
DMARC has grown from a mere option to the absolute necessity for email security and protection against cyber attacks such as email spoofing and phishing attacks. With the surge in technology, the threat actors have come up with new sophisticated techniques to steal company identity and deceive customers and employees. By implementing DMARC, you’re defending against constantly lurking threats.
Even your legitimate emails may fail to reach the recipient server’s inbox. To amend this, you can use the DMARC record, which helps to identify and fix any authentication issues. As a result, email delivery performance is enhanced.
It is a primary defence against cyberattacks like phishing, spoofing, and identity theft. In addition, it helps domain owners prevent unauthorised parties from sending emails on their behalf. It protects not only the company but also the customers associated with it.
Building a brand doesn’t happen overnight, yet a single mistake can cause your brand to crumble like a chain of falling dominoes. Not only will your company suffer, you’ll likely lose hard-earned loyal customers. In addition to that, your reputation will take a direct hit, and sometimes, it’s impossible to build your reputation the way it was.
DMARC record prevents bad actors from impersonating your brand’s domain. It ensures that your employees and customers get only legitimate emails. Furthermore, it will enhance your credibility as a brand that prioritises protecting your customers’ interests.
The DMARC record provides ongoing data about the use of your domain, and it also aids in identifying threat actors that impersonate your domain. Moreover, the reporting mechanism of DMARC will instantly recognise if someone is misusing your domain.
Implementing DMARC records in your domain’s DNS enables you to gather information about the entities sending emails on your behalf. DMARC record eradicates this risk and prevents your domain from being used for malicious purposes.
Before publishing the DMARC record, it’s essential to implement DKIM and SPF protocols. Combining these three components produces a synergical effect, which forms a robust shield to protect against cyberattacks.
Here’s how it works:
2. When the recipient receives an email, it checks for DMARC records. Then, it performs SPF and DKIM authentication and alignment checks to ensure the sender is legitimate.
3. After the SPF and DKIM checks, the sending domain’s DMARC policy is applied. The decision to quarantine, monitor or reject email depends on the DMARC policy.
4. Lastly, if reporting tags like rua and ruf are placed in the DMARC record, the domain owner will receive aggregate reports and forensic reports in a specified email address.
It can be confusing to determine who can use DMARC records, whether it’s limited to large organisations or if individuals can use it too. Well, the answer is quite simple. Anyone with a domain can use the DMARC record to verify the emails you’re sending are legitimate. Recipient servers use DMARC records to determine what to do with the message that failed the authentication check.
DMARC record is stored in the DNS server as a TXT record, and this TXT record name can be set as “_dmarc.customerdomain.com”, where customerdomain.com can be replaced with the organisation’s actual domain name. It instructs the recipient server what action to take if the email fails the authentication check.
You can have only one DMARC record for one domain and subdomain. If there is more than one DMARC record at the same level, it can create confusion. When multiple DMARC records are present, the recipient may face a conflict in determining which policy to adhere to and where to send the report.
With the absence of a DMARC record, you become vulnerable to cyberattacks. Threat actors can easily impersonate your domain and plot fraudulent schemes against your customers. A DMARC record acts as a shield against these malicious activities. That’s why it’s essential to implement DMARC records.
To verify and validate the DMARC record, you can use a free DMARC diagnostic tool available online: DMARC Record Checker. Using this, you can easily identify any issues regarding your DMARC record. It helps to determine whether the TXT record is published correctly or not and where your reports are being sent.
Your DMARC record check can fail due to various reasons;
The major components of the DMARC record include three tags: v, p and rua.
You can use free diagnostic tools like DMARC record checker to verify and validate your DMARC record. By using this tool, you can identify issues with your DMARC record, such as its correct publication status and the destination of your reports.
In today’s digital landscape, DMARC is not just a mere option; it’s an absolute necessity. It creates a layer of protection against the rising threat of cyberattacks like phishing and email spoofing. By implementing the DMARC record, you’re protecting the company and safeguarding the interest of customers who interact with your company.
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