Written by: Daniel Haurey on 07/03/24

If your organization uses any type of mass email distribution system, such as a CRM tool or marketing email tool, you’ve probably been bombarded with notifications about a change to deliverability due to DMARC changes. This change primarily affects anyone sending to “free” mail accounts such as Google or Yahoo, which changed their requirements starting Feb. 1, 2024, and only if you send 5,000 email messages or more a day.

While this all sounds menacing and complicated, it really isn’t. First of all, many businesses will not come close to that email count/day. Second, addressing DMARC is not difficult for those with some technology experience. Lastly, DMARC is a simple step toward improving your organizational security posture – even if your business doesn’t send mass emails.

Let’s start here: DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance. It’s an email authentication protocol designed to protect organizations from email spoofing and phishing attacks. Without DMARC, bad actors can spoof, or replicate, your email domain and use it for all sorts of sneaky reasons. With DMARC, you’ll reduce that risk tremendously.

What is spoofing? The goal of this type of cyber attack is to convince email recipients that an email received from someone else (a bad guy or hacker) came from a trusted source. One method depends on the fact that emails contain two different “sender” values – the one you see in the email (perhaps a person’s full name) and the reply address. It is that reply address, which many of us fail to pay attention to, that is often falsified in a spoofing attack. Mail servers can perform simple checks to see if the email received and sent along to your inbox is genuinely sent by a server recognized by the sending organization using a few security solutions – DMARC being one.

Worried about spoofing? See simple steps you can take to avoid being lured in

How Does DMARC Work?

  1. Authentication: DMARC allows domain owners to set up records in their Domain Name System (DNS) that will then tell receiving email servers how to authenticate emails claiming to be from their domain. This is done using two other email authentication protocols: SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail). DNS records can also be used to determine if an email server is registered and authorized to send emails from the organization. The combination of these protocols provides the most effective solution to spoofing, but only if they are each configured correctly.
  2. Reporting: DMARC allows domain owners to specify where they want receiving email servers to send reports about emails claiming to be from their domain. These reports can be used to identify unauthorized senders and track phishing attempts.
  3. Conformance: DMARC allows domain owners to tell receiving email servers what to do with emails that fail authentication. They can choose to have these emails quarantined, rejected, or delivered with a warning. These more specific and layered responses can offset past concerns about organizations missing a critical email server when they set security rules, such as a partner like HubSpot or SurveyMonkey, and therefore blocking approved communications. DMARC records also provide email addresses to which failure information can be sent, allowing for better optimization.

Is Your Organization Protected?

While many organizations have taken some steps toward email security, using one or more of these solutions, it’s unlikely you have closed all the gaps. If you are unsure where your organization stands, one simple test is to visit Dmarcian, a site that allows you to quickly check your domain.

More than likely, you will need to work with a cybersecurity expert such as Exigent Technologies to implement, and then fine-tune your DMARC settings. The effort, however, is well worth it. By implementing DMARC alongside trusted email filtering and security solutions, organizations can significantly reduce the risk of email spoofing and phishing attacks. This helps to protect their reputation, prevent financial losses, and safeguard sensitive information. Even if your organization doesn’t meet the daily email count requirements, setting up DNS DMARC is a preferred practice that supports a robust cybersecurity posture.

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