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What is DMARC?

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04 Jan 2021

DMARC or Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance is an email validation system that helps in ensuring that your company’s email domain is not a victim of and is not used for email scamming, phishing, etc. It uses the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) to analyze and email and determine its authenticity.

DMARC adds another feature of reporting. It makes it easier for Internet Service Providers to help identify and stop malicious email activities and to protect the domain from being used for phishing for recipient’s emails.

Using DMARC allows email senders to specify how to deal with emails that were not authenticated with SPF or DKIM. Senders can make sure those emails are either blocked or end up in the spam folder. This helps the ISPs in identifying spammers and scammers and in blocking them so that the recipients don’t get bombarded with fake emails.

The DMARC record includes the following:

History of DMARC

DMARC standard was published in 2012 and was created by PayPal together with Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! DMARC was first developed as an email security protocol. It was firstly adopted by security experts in the financial industry. Later on, it spread and started being used by all sorts of companies sending marketing emails. Today DMARC is recognized by email senders as an aspect of improved email security and high email deliverability.

DMARC is now supported by most of the ISPs and used by millions of companies all around the world.

What are the benefits of DMARC?

There are over 5 billion email accounts all over the world. This means that the email channel is the biggest network out there, so it can be easily exploited by scammers. In order to prevent all this, DMARC is needed. Let’s take a look at why DMARC is needed and what are its benefits.

DMARC Policies

DMARC can help in instructing email receivers about what they should do with an email that does not pass DMARC authorization. A DMARC policy can be defined which instructs the ISP how to handle an incoming email. The receiver checks if the incoming emails have valid SPF and DKIM records and mark the message as DMARC compliant or DMARC failure. Once the email receiver has verified the authentication status of the email, the email can be handled according to the chosen policy.

There are three DMARC policies:

1. Monitor policy; p = none

The first policy is the Monitor policy which instructs the email receiver to simply send DMARC reports to the address published in the DMARC record. The monitor policy provides you an insight into your email channel but it does not instruct the receiver to stop or block any unauthorized email. It simply provides you the data without affecting email deliverability. This is why it is called the monitor policy as you only monitor the traffic instead of filtering it.

2. Quarantine policy; p = quarantine

The Quarantine policy sends a DMARC report and along with that it also instructs the email receiver to put any email that fails the DMARC authentication in the spam folder while allowing the rest to pass through. The quarantine policy will detect the scam and malicious emails but they will still be delivered to the receiver in the spam folder.

3. Reject policy; p = reject

The reject policy, along with sending the DMARC report, also instructs the email receiver to block the emails that do not pass the DMARC authentication. Emails that are authenticated will be delivered, while those failing to do so will not. This completely eradicates the chances of scamming as such emails never reach the inbox of the recipient and are deleted.

The thing to be kept in mind is that the DMARC policy is a request and not an order. The email receiver can follow the DMARC policy if it wants to. There are some local policies as well so there might be cases in which the receiver will overlook the DMARC policy in order to implement the local policy.

Where does DMARC help?

Different companies and organizations can be harmed badly because of scamming or spoofing emails sent on their behalf. DMARC can help prevent this by keeping a strict check and providing you with the details of your email channel.

With a reject DMARC policy, an organization will be safe from:

Why is DMARC so important?

DMARC has slowly evolved into one of the biggest security authentication protocols for the email network. It is the perfect example of Internet Service providers and email senders working together for protecting everyone from scamp, phishing, and malicious emails. As a company owner, you’d want to make sure that your customers receive emails that have been sent by you and not someone else. DMARC makes sure that this happens by blocking or quarantining unauthorized emails. This helps in building customer trust and in gaining new customers along with improving email deliverability. This is why implementing DMARC is important if you want to protect and spread your business.

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