What Is DMARC and Why Does It Matter?

José Ferreira By José Ferreira • January 30, 2020

You’ve probably heard about DMARC by now – the Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance.  What you must know is that this system plays an important role in your email security ecosystem.

The Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance is an important method for validating your email ecosystem - it basically allows the owners of domains to publish policies in DNS, which tell remote mailers what to make of emails that don't align with those policies. In translation, DMARC protects your email domain from spoofing, phishing, and many other cyber attacks.  

When you consider all of this, it makes sense that everyone should be using DMARC. However, in reality, only 23% of Fortune 500 companies have a DMARC policy in place, and the numbers are far lower for smaller companies. In total, 79.7% of all domains have no DMARC policy.

And this is why you should understand  DMARC and the need to start using it. 

What is DMARC, and How Does It Work?

DMARC is embedded into an organization's inbound email authentication process as a record in the DNS system. It is basically a reporting and instruction toolset that tells you what you should do regarding a particular email, in case, for instance, that email fails SPF or DKIM or it is not aligned with any other policies set up for delivering email. 

For example, if a cybercriminal uses a phishing scam on you, by sending an email that appears as though it's coming from your bank. but is actually failing an authentication record, because the true origin is another IP or Domain, than you can stop it using a security system which properly "reads" DMARC and understand if the email is aligned with the origin records.

These types of scams happen very often, and sometimes they are so elaborate that many people, including higher executives in companies, end up falling for the trick -  In fact, advanced social engineering in fabricating an email to appear legit  is usually what makes the difference between a recipient clicking an infected link or doing a wire transfer, or not. What DMARC does is to help determining if an email is coming from a legitimate source or not, so that the recipient doesn't have to.

Why Does It Matter for Your Organization to Start Using DMARC?

Technologies like DMARC are one of the few that can genuinely fight spam and spoofing email messages. That's why DMARC is a vital component of every robust email protection system.

The problem with these messages is how common they are. Almost 90% of all email attacks are based on creating fake sender identities. With email authentication technology like DMARC, you can effectively stop most of these emails from reaching and causing damage to your organization. 

Government organizations across the globe are using DMARC, and they have effectively shown how useful it is. For example, the HM Revenue & Customs Service from the UK has managed to reduce spoofing emails by around half a billion, and their genuine email rates have skyrocketed from 18% to 98% - all thanks to DMARC policies. 

We at AnubisNetworks use DMARC technology in our email protection service. If you’re interested in using it, you can start a free trial and see how valuable such a cybersecurity service is.