How Does DMARC Work?

DMARC, which stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance is an e-mail protocol; that when revealed for a domain; controls what happens if a message fails authentication tests (i.e. the recipient server cannot verify that the message’s sender is who they say they are). By way of those authentication checks (SPF & DKIM) messages purporting to be from the sender’s domain are analyzed by receiving organizations and determine whether or not the message was really sent by the domain in the message. DMARC essentially handles the question of what ought to occur to messages that fail authentication tests (SPF & DKIM). Ought to they be Quarantined? Rejected? or should we let the message by means of even if it failed to prove its determine? Long story quick, DMARC acts as a gatekeeper to inboxes and if setup properly can forestall phishing and malware attacks from touchdown in the inbox.

What’s a DMARC Report?

DMARC uses DNS to publish info on how an e mail from a domain should be handled (e.g., don’thing, quarantine the message, or reject the message). Because it makes use of DNS, almost all e mail systems can decipher how email supposedly sent from your domain must be processed. This factor also makes it simple to deploy because it only a requires 1 DNS change to set it up (by way of a DMARC (TXT) record).

How Does DMARC Work?

DMARC is used in conjunction with SPF and DKIM (the authentication tests we talked about earlier) and these three parts work wonders together to autenticaticate a message and determine what to do with it. Essentially, a sender’s DMARC report instructs a recipient of subsequent steps (e.g., don’thing, quarantine the message, or reject it) if suspicious e mail claiming to come back from a specific sender is received. Here is how it works:

1. The owner of the domain publishes a DMARC DNS Record at their DNS hosting company.

2. When an e-mail is sent by the domain (or somebody spoofing the domain), the recipient mail server checks to see if the domain has a DMARC record.

3. The mail server then performs DKIM and SPF authentication and alignment tests to confirm if the sender is really the domain it says it is.

Does the message have a proper DKIM-Signature that validates?

Does the sender’s IP address match approved senders in the SPF report?

Do the message headers pass domain alignment tests?

4. With the DKIM & SPF results, the mail server is then ready to use the sending domain’s DMARC policy. This policy basically says:

Should I quarantine, reject, or don’thing to the message if the message has failed DKIM/SPF tests?

5. Lastly, after figuring out what to do with the message, the receiving mail server (think Gmail) will ship a report on the outcome of this message and all other messages they see from the same domain. These reports are called DMARC Combination Reports and are despatched to the email address or addresses specified in the domain’s DMARC record.

Why Do I Need DMARC?

DMARC helps combat malicious e mail practices that put your business at risk, implementing this protocol is strongly advised. Whether performing e-commerce or offline sales, your small business makes use of email as a primary technique of communication with employees, clients, and suppliers. Unsecured messages are easy to spoof, and increasingly sophisticated criminals are discovering profitable ways to utilize a wide range of e mail scams. DMARC helps senders and receivers work collectively to better safeguard e-mail and reduce the number of spoofing, phishing, and spam practices.

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