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  • Stephen Robson

Alternit One’s Guide To Implementing DMARC


Email attacks (spoofing and phising) have never been more of a concern for the financial services industry, and earlier this year, Security Magazine reported that ‘in 2023, phishing emails totaled 1.76 billion – the highest amount on record. This figure represents a 51% increase from 2022’.

To combat the on-going threat of email attacks, businesses are implementing various technological solutions and  email authentication protocols, one such example of which is DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance). 

 

Stephen Robson, Senior Infrastructure Specialist at Alternit One explores DMARC, detailing the functionality of the protocol, its benefits and how companies can implement it into their operations. 

 

According to Microsoft: ‘DMARC is a method of email authentication that helps businesses to protect their email domain from being used for phishing and email spoofing attacks’.  There are three components to the operational structure of DMARC: 


  • Authentication Methods

The two pre-existing email authentication methods that are intrinsic to the implementation of DMARC are SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail). The former, SPF, verifies that an email is sent from an authorised IP address, while DKIM adds a digital signature to emails to verify their authenticity.


  • Policy Settings

Domain owners must publish a DMARC policy in their DNS records (aka zone files). The policy should specify how receiving email servers should handle any emails that fail SPF and DKIM authentication checks. This policy can then give instructions to the receiving servers to quarantine, reject, or monitor suspicious emails.


  • Reporting Mechanisms

DMARC also includes a reporting feature that enables domain owners to receive feedback reports from email receivers about emails that have been sent from their domain. These are highly valuable reports because they provide insights about those who are sending emails on behalf of the domain and whether they pass authentication checks.


 

So why is DMARC beneficial for businesses?

 

First and foremost, DMARC adds extra layers of security for company emails. It is a tool that prevents unauthorised parties from sending emails that appear to come from a legitimate domain, and therefore reduces the risk of phishing attacks and email fraud. Secondly, the reporting feature of DMARC gives businesses greater visibility and control as it enables domain owners to see and monitor the sender activity, and take appropriate actions to protect their domain reputation. Finally, the use of DMARC improves email deliverability. By using the tool, businesses can reduce the probability of legitimate emails being marked as spam or phishing attempts by other email providers.

 

Whilst there are some great benefits to using DMARC within the workplace, the implementation of the authentication tool can present companies with several challenges. For example, setting up DMARC can be highly complex. Correct configuration of policies and interpretation of reports can be a complicated task that often requires technical expertise and careful monitoring.  DMARC policies thar are configured incorrectly can lead to legitimate emails being rejected or marked as suspicious, and impact email deliverability as a result.


It is clear that the benefits of DMARC can only be fully realised if the tool is set up correctly, and At Alternit One, we are now offering clients our DMARC management service. We are working with businesses, their  vendors, third parties (banks, brokers etc) and clients to ensure DMARC compliance across their email ecosystem, and thereafter deploy monitoring of compliance to identify any failures or domains requiring further attention. We understand the nuances of the authentication tool and with strategic planning, we can help businesses optimise the benefits of the tool and enhance their overall email security. If you would like to learn more about our DMARC management service, contact us at info@alternitone.com.

 


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