Why do you need DMARC protecting your email domain?

DMARC is the acronym for “Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance“.

This content is courtesy of our partners Sendmarc.

SPF and DKIM are two frameworks that attempt to correct the issue of email security. In summary, SPF tells a receiver that the mail came from an authorized server that is allowed to send that mail, while DKIM is a framework that makes sure that the mail is the same one that was sent.

The main problem with both frameworks, however, was that when the receiving server checked the SPF and/or DKIM settings and saw that they were failing, it didn’t always know what to do with the mail in question.

Should it put it in the spambucket, or not accept it at all? After all, SPF can often be set up incorrectly, even though the mail itself was legitimate.

What started to happen is that a lot of companies were publishing SPF records that were incorrect or incomplete. The receivers were getting so much mail off these incorrect servers that they weren’t sure what to do. So, they decided that the mail was legitimate, and to ignore the incorrect records and send it on anyway.

As a solution for this, a policy called DMARC was designed to sit on top of both SPF and DKIM. Because it’s a policy that a domain owner publishes, it puts the control of what the receiver must do with a particular mail firmly in the domain owner’s hands.

In the past, receivers didn’t know what to do with a mail if it failed the SPF or DKIM checks. Now with DMARC, the domain owner essentially says to the receiving server: “If you get this mail from my domain and SPF or DKIM fails, do not accept it.”

This then made the task easier for receiving servers. Finally, they didn’t have to make up their mind about what to do with a particular mail; the domain owner would tell them what to do.

The second key function that DMARC did was to send a report to the domain owner upon receiving a mail that says, for example: “We got a mail from you, and it came from this particular IP, and it was passing SPF and failing DKIM.”

With this example, the receiving server is not only being instructed by domain owners on what to do, but they are also telling domain owners about mail that they are getting from them. This is very important, because often domain owners aren’t even aware of all their own receiving servers!

Some multinationals have hundreds of servers, and don’t know about all of them. Even in the case of small businesses, there may be several servers sending mail: via a CRM system, a ticketing system, a billing system and more.

In another scenario, there may be a small business employee who starts doing email marketing using Mailchimp as a sending server, without anyone else knowing about the platform. The problem here is that if SPF is implemented and Mailchimp isn’t authorised as a sender, all the Mailchimp mails will start failing.

That’s why these DMARC reports are so important, as they tell domain owners which severs are sending mail, and which ones should be audited and authorised where applicable.

These reports then create full visibility for the domain owner, as they can see everybody sending mail from their domain. This, in turn, makes it much easier for them to authorise the correct servers, as before they may not have known about them.

Implementing DMARC creates a simple way of putting control back into the email sender’s hands – no matter where that mail is sent.

Are you interested in seeing how vulnerable your email domain is?

Fill in the form below and we’ll send you a report base don your own email domain vulnerability.

    Email domain impersonation is a bigger threat than spam

    When you think of email-related cyber threats, the first item on the list is normally spam protection, not true?

    This being said, most major email providers provide spam protection by default. (Think Office 365 Exchange Online Protection, SYNAQ Securemail, or Symantec Mail Security.)

    However, when it comes to email attacks that have the biggest impact to your business, email domain impersonation has far more severe potential consequences:

    • Financially: Customers can pay invoices to phishers that were meant for you
    • Reputationally: A customer who receives malware via an email from your domain is likely to remember this in future, which can damage your future relationship with them.

    This, in essence is why you need email protection beyond spam protection, such as a DMARC compliance solution.

    Each time a server receives a mail from your domain, a tool like Sendmarc will check the DMARC policy of the sender of the email. This is true regardless of where in the world that mail came from, and whether the sending infrastructure is yours or that of a hacker. With this check-in place, any mail that doesn’t come from a legitimate source will be rejected.

    Are you thinking beyond spam protection?

    Protect your clients and your business

    “Our bank details have not changed.” is surely one of the least pleasant things to have to put in your email signature.

    Chances are, if you’ve seen this, the email sender’s email domain has been impersonated and used in a phishing attack.

    Phishing is extremely commonplace these days and is used by attackers to steal information such as passwords and other credentials, and other sensitive information.

    According to Sendmarc, below are several common phishing scams, which can include things such as:

    • Asking you to click on a link and download a malicious file onto your computer.
    • Sending you an email notifying you of an outstanding invoice – and then a link where you can click to pay it. Clicking on this link takes you to an illegitimate site where scammers can gather your personal information and access your bank accounts.
    • The email sender telling you that one of your accounts has been compromised, and then asking you to log in and reset your password, fill in your information and resubmit it.
    • Pretending to be one of your vendors and asking you to confirm your credit information before they can release or deliver an order.

    There are 2 approaches, which work best in parallel, to prevent email phishing attacks.

    1. Implement a technical solution such as DMARC to assure email authenticity
    2. Train your employees to recognize phishing emails and handle them appropriately

    We work with our partners Sendmarc to help our customers prevent their email domains from being impersonated, nd used in phishing attacks.

    You should really know whether or not your domain is at risk of impersonation – fill in the form below and we’ll run the analysis for you and reply with the information.

      A different perspective on combating email phishing attacks

      Published by our partners Sendmarc

      The concept of email phishing

      Fraudulent emails sent by someone pretending to be legitimate in order to trick you into divulging personal details like banking details or passwords is nothing new.

      Despite how familiar we become with the concept, email phishing continues to be on the increase with each passing year.

      It happens all over the globe, not just in South Africa, and results in losses of hundreds of millions of rands every year.

      Recently, Carte Blanche published a special report on phishing, and African Bank has also released similar analysis describing this growing problem, which puts companies at huge risk of losing not just money but personal data related to their businesses and employees as well.

      Preventing phishing attacks

      Both articles present good information about changing user behaviour in order to prevent potential phishing and/or spoofing attacks. But from a broader perspective, are we missing the point, in that there are well defined technical ways of preventing these attacks in the first place?

      As the old adage says, prevention is better than cure, and what many businesses don’t realise is that there are technical solutions that can prevent the problem fraudulent emails even being sent from their domains. If this is done properly, then educating employees about potential spoof emails becomes a secondary priority.

      The technical solution

      So, what are these technical solutions? The best current solution is implementing a DMARC policy on your domain. Full DMARC compliance will ensure that only legitimate non-fraudulent senders are able to send email from your domain and your business can stop will stop attackers from sending illegitimate email from your domain.

      On the flip side, you can be almost 100% certain that when you received mail from another domain which is DMARC compliant it almost definitely comes from that organisation.

      When it comes to phishing, it seems the user is almost always blamed. But while user behaviour is important, it’s certainly not the whole picture.

      The fact that it’s actually possible to trust that the mail you received was sent by the actual organisation and not an attacker is a game-changer when it comes to the phishing epidemic. With the right technical solutions in place – such as DMARC compliance – you can avoid the whole issue altogether, which takes the pressure off educating your users.

      Is your domain secure from imposters and impersonators?

      Fill in the form below and we’ll get back to you with a report detailing how secure your email domain is from being impersonated.

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        What is Sendmarc?

        Did you know that others can impersonate your email if you don’t have a domain security solution in place?

        Watch below how Sendmarc helps mitigate this risk.

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