In recent years, the rise of email-based cyberattacks has become a notorious issue, with social engineering posing a significant threat to business communications. Reports indicate that in 2018, business email compromise scams led to staggering losses of approximately $1.2 billion. The vulnerability of email systems makes them a prime target for cybercriminals, as they are often easier to breach compared to other security systems.

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) face the challenge of defending their clients against these increasing threats. This guide aims to direct MSPs towards effective email security measures, focusing on a critical component known as Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC).

Understanding DMARC

DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance, a protocol that ensures the integrity of business email domains. It prevents unauthorised use of email domains through tactics like email spoofing and phishing. DMARC builds upon two established authentication methods: Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM).

A distinctive feature of DMARC is its reporting capability. By incorporating a DMARC record into their DNS, domain owners can monitor who is sending emails under their domain name. This oversight allows them to manage and secure the emails associated with their domain effectively. Implementing DMARC is a proactive step towards defending against email spoofing and phishing.

The Importance of DMARC in Email Security

For professionals, the authenticity of emails sent to customers and website visitors is paramount. DMARC plays a vital role in ensuring that emails are genuinely from the claimed sender, making it an indispensable element of a robust MSP email security strategy. With nearly four billion email accounts in existence, email is arguably the most extensive modern communication network. Consequently, it’s no wonder that it’s a favored target for cybercriminals. DMARC provides a layer of security that is essential in today’s digital landscape.

The prevalence of cybercrime via email shows no indication of diminishing. A recent survey at the Infosecurity London conference revealed that over half of the companies continue to encounter phishing attempts frequently. DMARC, which stands for Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance, is a formidable defense mechanism that brings transparency to phishing activities, allowing organisations to fully understand their email traffic. DMARC is instrumental in reducing the risks associated with malware and phishing, aiding businesses in steering clear of email compromise and impersonation attempts. It also plays a crucial role in preventing identity spoofing and safeguarding a company’s reputation.

In the past, traditional email security methods like DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) and SPF (Sender Policy Framework) were adequate in thwarting email impersonation and phishing. However, with the evolution of cybercriminal tactics, these measures alone are no longer foolproof. The integration of DMARC with SPF and DKIM forms a robust triad of email security. DMARC acts as a bridge between SPF and DKIM, enhancing the overall protection.

SPF specifies which mail servers are authorised to send emails on behalf of a domain, effectively identifying and blocking spoofed emails. DKIM adds an extra layer of verification, allowing recipients to confirm that an email is genuinely from the stated sender and that its contents remain unaltered. The combination of DKIM and SPF significantly reduces the likelihood of emails being marked as spam and deters spoofing attempts. By incorporating DMARC into your DNS records, you not only bolster your defenses against email-based threats but also gain critical insights into your email communications, paving the way for a more secure and comprehensive email security framework.


How do you implement DMARC?

Setting up DMARC is a straightforward process, particularly with the assistance of a DNS server administrator. They can add a DMARC record to your DNS, enabling you to monitor email activity for your domain. This will allow you to receive reports and gain insights into the origins of your domain’s email traffic, potentially uncovering unknown vendors or partners using your domain to send emails.

Selecting an Email Security Solution

As previously discussed, the most effective business email security strategy is a multi-layered one. A robust email security system should incorporate layers of protection, including SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. There are solutions available that combine these protocols to help you secure your business email, prevent spoofing, and maintain encrypted communication.

Combatting Sophisticated Cyberattacks

Today’s organisations and their staff are the targets of complex cyberattacks aimed at extracting money, credentials, customer data, and other critical intellectual property. Solutions like Mimecast Targeted Threat Protection are designed to counteract specific threats such as spear-phishing, ransomware, and impersonation attacks.