What is DMARC, and how does it combat phishing?
Updated: Oct 1, 2020
DMARC is a way to make it easier for email senders and receivers to determine whether or not a given message is legitimately from the sender, and what to do if it isn’t. This makes it easier to identify spam and phishing messages, and keep them out of peoples’ inboxes.
DMARC is a proposed standard that allows email senders and receivers to cooperate in sharing information about the email they send to each other. This information helps senders improve the mail authentication infrastructure so that all their mail can be authenticated. It also gives the legitimate owner of an Internet domain a way to request that illegitimate messages – spoofed spam, phishing – be put directly in the spam folder or rejected outright.
What type of illegitimate email does DMARC address?
DMARC is designed to protect against direct domain spoofing. When an email is sent by an unauthorized sender (whether it is sent by a malicious actor, or even an unauthorized or non-participating department of the company that owns/operates the domain), DMARC can be used to detect the unauthorized activity and (if so configured) request that those messages be blocked or discarded when they are received.
How does DMARC work, briefly, and in non-technical terms?
A DMARC policy allows a sender to indicate that their messages are protected by SPF and/or DKIM, and tells a receiver what to do if neither of those authentication methods passes – such as junk or reject the message. DMARC removes guesswork from the receiver’s handling of these failed messages, limiting or eliminating the user’s exposure to potentially fraudulent & harmful messages. DMARC also provides a way for the email receiver to report back to the sender about messages that pass and/or fail DMARC evaluation.