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Detect and prevent email spoofing with DMARC

December 21, 2022
Read Time 3 mins

By Jan Appel, IT Operations Manager

Any business that is involved in email security these days should know about the DMARC standard and the role it has to play in securing emails from a wide range of threats, including phishing, email spoofing, and even spam.

But what is DMARC exactly? And how can it benefit today’s businesses? DMARC is Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance, a technical standard aimed at protecting both email senders and recipients from the many threats that are often the culprit when an email data breach occurs.

Covered in this article

Formalising authentication
No more phishing
Stopping spoofing, spam in their tracks
Protecting brand reputation

Formalising authentication

DMARC offers a way for domain owners to formalise their authentication practices and define the steps that need to be taken should an email fail authentication. Moreover, the standard offers for recipients to report any emails that fail authentication. This benefits organisations by furnishing another layer of protection that protects against attacks such as impersonation fraud, where a bad actor misuses a legitimate domain to send a fraudulent message. In short, it prevents unauthorised emails from being delivered to inboxes and enables businesses to protect their domains from spoofing and phishing attacks.

It’s easy to see why DMARC is a powerful tool that can help entities of every size and in every sector guard their reputation and brand against email abuse that is all too rife these days. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits, and what they mean for organisations.

No more phishing

One of the most compelling benefits that DMARC benefits is that it reduces the risk of phishing attacks, which can have catastrophic consequences for any organisation, in terms of monetary losses and brand damage. The risk of phishing should never be underestimated, and it remains one of the greatest cyber security threats that companies face today. A Proofpoint 2022 State of the Phish Report, claimed that a whopping 83% of businesses fell victim to a phishing attack last year, and Verizon's Data Breach Investigations Report last year revealed that 25% of all data breaches involve phishing.

DMARC helps to prevent data breaches by pinpointing phishing attacks and spam, which are too often the stepping stone for threat actors to gain access to the network. When an email is flagged as spam by DMARC, it will be tagged as such by email providers as well as popular email services such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook, and more, which will make it much more difficult for malefactors and other fraudsters to achieve their goals.

Stopping spoofing, spam in their tracks

 Another benefit of DMARC, is that it is an effective weapon in the fight against spoofing attacks as it provides a means for email receivers to reject messages from senders or domains that are not authorised, and that have fraudulent headers such as fake sender addresses. With spoofing attacks, bad actors try to impersonate a legitimate source as a means to fool unsuspecting targets into divulging sensitive information or clicking on links that are malicious. DMARC stops attacks of this nature in their tracks.

Limiting spam is another benefit of DMARC. It helps to lessen the number of spam messages that slip through traditional spam filters and prevents them from being delivered to inboxes. This can save a fortune in time and resources, by reducing the number of messages that staff members need to process each day, helping them separate the wheat from the chaff.

Protecting brand reputation

DMARC is also an excellent solution that helps to protect brand reputation and promotes email deliverability. We all know that people are infinitely more likely to trust an email if it appears to come from a trusted source.  DMARC will also make sure that emails sent from your organisation are being sent from the right domain, and that they do not resemble spam or junk mail in any way. It does this by preventing your company domain from being spoofed, which means far fewer of your communications to customers will end up in the trash.

The bottom line? DMARC can help your brand and business too.  It makes sure that all interested parties know which emails are yours and which ones are not. With DMARC, you can receive reports about any legitimate and unauthorised emails sent on behalf of your domain. This is made possible because the protocol provides valuable information in its Reporting URL for Aggregate Reports (RUA) and Reporting URL for Forensic Reports (RUF), which includes the IP address of senders.

This information enables you to figure out whether any emails sent on behalf of your company’s domain are coming from genuine sources or when they fail a DMARC inspection. Furthermore, it gives you the ability to add a DMARC record to your Domain Name System (DNS) to instruct receiving servers on how to deal with emails that are not coming from legitimate sources and therefore fail DMARC authentication.

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