In this day and age of increased cyber danger, how can we ensure the validity of the emails we receive in order to prevent the leakage of vital information or the installing of ransomware? Without the necessary policies and technologies in place, even the most educated and savvy users might fall for fraud, putting their organization's important assets and reputation in danger.
The DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) anti-phishing and anti-spoofing protocol can help reduce this ambiguity and danger. But to be effective, DMARC must first be properly and securely implemented as part of a proactive, multi-layered email security strategy to protect the inbox from fraudulent emails, which frequently result in data theft, extensive downtime, fraudulent wire transfers, and severe, long-term reputational harm. This blog will look at whether you should use DMARC ‘Quarantine’ or DMARC ‘Reject’, as well as how to set up and utilize DMARC to guard against sender fraud and spoofing attacks.
Email Spoofing and Related Threats
Email spoofing is a technique commonly employed in phishing attacks and other email scams in which a hostile actor sends an email with a forged “From” address. In a spoofing attack, the sender forges an email header such that the client software shows the forged sender address, which most users accept at face value.
Cybercriminals are often able to trick users into sharing sensitive information by posing as someone the recipient knows and trusts, as recipients are more likely to click on a malicious URL, disclose credentials, install malware, or wire corporate funds when an email appears to be from a friend or a colleague. It is vital to have an effective, multi-layered approach in place that involves the usage of the DMARC email authentication protocol to ensure that only valid mail reaches the inbox in order to protect users and key corporate assets from cyberattacks and breaches.
DMARC and Its Importance
DMARC is an email authentication protocol or standard established that allows systems and devices to connect more effectively and validate the legality of email communications by confirming sender identity and preserving domain reputation. All inbound communications are subjected to an ‘identification check’ as a result of the protocol.
DMARC allows a sender to indicate that their messages are SPF and/or DKIM protected. SPF is an open standard that specifies a method for preventing sender address forgery. DKIM, on the other hand, is a TXT record published in an organization's Domain Name System that provides a method for validating a domain name identity associated with a message through cryptographic authentication.
However, just because you've installed DMARC doesn't imply your email is immune to phishing, spoofing, and the other malicious attacks that target your organization on a regular basis. Implementing a stronger policy than ‘p=none’ can provide an extra degree of security. The DMARC Quarantine (p=quarantine) and DMARC Reject (p=reject) policies each provide a different level of protection, and each has advantages and disadvantages that should be evaluated.
Implementing the Right DMARC Policy
Implementing a DMARC Quarantine policy notifies participating receivers that you advise them to treat with extreme caution any emails that fail the DMARC authentication check. Email messages that fail DMARC authentication will still be allowed by the receiver if a ‘p=quarantine’ policy is in place, and the receiver is responsible for selecting how the quarantine policy should be implemented. Non-compliant communications are often routed to the recipient's quarantine inbox or spam folder.
Setting a ‘p=reject’ DMARC policy is an even more stringent defense against sender forging attacks than a ‘p=quarantine policy’, which guarantees that all fraudulent mail is never sent to the recipient. With a DMARC Reject policy in place, non-compliant emails are entirely rejected and never reach the intended recipient. With a ‘p=reject’ policy in place, users cannot be duped into clicking on a dangerous URL in a phishing email and giving sensitive credentials, or installing ransomware by downloading a malicious attachment.
One disadvantage of establishing a DMARC Reject policy is that genuine emails that fail authentication and are rejected will go unnoticed by the recipient. Organizations that do not actively use a reporting system to monitor authentication may take months to discover that valid email is not being sent, thereby interfering with marketing efforts and interactions with existing or future customers.
DMARC: The BottomLine
DMARC is a powerful email authentication method that is most effective in protecting against spoofing and sender fraud when implemented as part of a proactive, multi-layered email security solution managed by a provider who understands these threats and how this protocol can best be incorporated as part of a defense-in-depth approach to preventing email fraud and securing sensitive information.
Setting up DMARC is a difficult task. If implemented poorly or incorrectly, it has the ability to jeopardize your company's success. Collaboration with an email security company that takes on this task may be extremely helpful in saving time, improving security, and avoiding costly errors.