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  • 20 Jun 2024

A DMARC Setup can guarantee the legitimacy of your email while providing a secure framework for any communication. Advices to accomplish the setup !

how-to-setup-dmarc
How to set up DMARC for Email Delivery 2

DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance. It’s an email protocol that helps protect email senders and recipients from fraudulent emails.

Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

  • DMARC relies on two other existing email authentication methods, SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail). These protocols verify if an email is actually coming from the domain it claims to be from.
  • DMARC builds on top of SPF and DKIM by giving domain owners a way to specify what should happen to emails that fail authentication. For instance, DMARC can tell email servers to quarantine or reject those emails.
  • DMARC also allows domain owners to receive reports from email recipients about emails that failed authentication. These reports can help identify unauthorized use of a domain and prevent phishing attacks.

Overall, DMARC is an important tool for email security. It helps to ensure that emails are coming from who they say they are and protects both senders and recipients from email fraud.

Understanding DMARC, SPF, and DKIM

DMARC, SPF, and DKIM are a powerful trio working together to combat email fraud and improve email security. Here’s a breakdown of each:

SPF (Sender Policy Framework):

  • Imagine SPF as a whitelist. The domain owner publishes an SPF record in their DNS (Domain Name System) that specifies authorized servers allowed to send emails for that domain.
  • When an email arrives, the recipient’s server checks the sending domain’s SPF record. If the email’s source IP address matches an authorized server listed in the SPF record, it passes the SPF check.
  • SPF helps prevent email spoofing, where scammers forge the “From” address to make it appear from a legitimate source.

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail):

  • Think of DKIM as a digital signature. The email sender adds a DKIM signature to the email header using a private key. This signature is like a tamper-proof seal.
  • The recipient’s server checks the domain’s DNS for a public key corresponding to the private key used for signing. If the public key validates the signature, it verifies the email’s authenticity and content hasn’t been altered in transit.
  • DKIM helps ensure the email content hasn’t been tampered with during delivery.

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance):

  • DMARC acts as the commander for SPF and DKIM. The domain owner publishes a DMARC record specifying how to handle emails that fail SPF or DKIM checks.
  • DMARC policies can instruct recipient servers to:
    • Quarantine: Hold the email for further review.
    • Reject: Bounce the email back to the sender.
    • None (Monitor): Just monitor the results without taking action (for initial implementation).
  • DMARC also allows requesting reports on authentication results. These reports help domain owners identify unauthorized use of their domain and potential phishing attempts.

Working Together:

SPF and DKIM are independent authentication methods, but DMARC leverages them to create a more robust defense. DMARC provides reporting and policy enforcement based on SPF and DKIM results.

By implementing all three (SPF, DKIM, and DMARC), you significantly improve your email security posture by:

  • Preventing email spoofing and phishing attacks.
  • Protecting your domain reputation.
  • Ensuring emails from your domain are delivered.

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How to prepare for a DMARC Setup ?

  • SPF and DKIM: DMARC relies on SPF and DKIM for authentication. Ensure you have SPF and DKIM already set up for your domain. If not, you’ll need to configure them first. You can find resources to set up SPF and DKIM through your email service provider or by searching online.
  • DMARC Policy Decision: Decide what action you want recipient servers to take on emails that fail SPF or DKIM checks. Common options include:
    • Monitor (none): During initial setup, it’s recommended to start with “monitor” to gather insights on email traffic without enforcing any actions.
    • Quarantine: Holds suspicious emails for review before delivery.
    • Reject: Bounces unauthenticated emails back to the sender (stricter approach).
  • Reporting Email Address: Set up a dedicated email address to receive DMARC reports. These reports provide valuable information on email authentication and potential spoofing attempts.

Additional Steps:

  • Domain Registrar Login: You’ll need to access your domain registrar’s control panel to add DMARC records to your domain’s DNS (Domain Name System) settings.
  • Existing DMARC Record Check (Optional): Some domains might already have a DMARC record. Check your DNS settings to see if one exists before adding your own.
  • Third-Party Email Authentication: If you use third-party services to send emails on your behalf (e.g., marketing automation tools), ensure those services are also configured to authenticate emails using SPF and DKIM.

Here are some helpful resources for DMARC setup:

Remember, implementing DMARC is a gradual process. It’s wise to start with a “monitor” policy to analyze reports and understand your email traffic before enforcing stricter actions.

5 tips to improve your DMARC Setup and your email deliverability

Here are 5 tips to improve your DMARC setup and boost your email deliverability:

  1. Gradual Enforcement: Don’t jump straight to rejection. Start with a DMARC policy of “none” or “monitor” (p=none). This allows you to monitor email authentication failures for a period without impacting email delivery. Analyze these reports to understand your email traffic patterns and identify any unauthorized emails.
  2. Authenticate with SPF and DKIM: DMARC builds on existing authentication methods. Ensure you have SPF and DKIM properly configured for your domain. If not, setting them up first is crucial for DMARC to function effectively.
  3. Regular Reporting and Review: Regularly review the DMARC reports you receive. These reports show how emails from your domain are being authenticated and identify potential issues like spoofing attempts. Use this information to refine your DMARC policy and improve overall security.
  4. Keep DNS Records Updated: Outdated or incorrect DNS records can negatively impact email deliverability. Regularly review and update your SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records as your email infrastructure evolves (e.g., adding new email servers).
  5. Monitor Sender Reputation: Maintain a good sender reputation by consistently sending high-quality emails with valuable content. Avoid spammy practices and ensure high recipient engagement metrics (open rates, click-through rates). A good sender reputation translates to better email deliverability.

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