You’ve likely heard plenty of horror stories about email-based cyberattacks in the past few years. Social engineering has become a rising threat to business email and it’s reported that losses resulting from business email compromise scams totaled $1.2 billion in 2018 alone. Email remains one of the most likely targets of cyberattacks simply because it’s comparatively easier to exploit than other systems.

In the face of a growing number of attacks, what can MSPs do to protect their customers from business email compromise? To point MSPs in the right direction, this guide will consider and explain a key aspect of robust email security, called Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) email security.

What Is DMARC?

DMARC is an email validation system designed to protect business email domains from being exploited via email spoofing, phishing scams, and other cybercrimes. DMARC leverages two existing email authentication techniques—Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM).

DMARC contributes a key function to an email security solution, which is reporting. When the owner of a domain publishes a DMARC record into their DNS record, they can view who’s sending email on behalf of their domain. With this information, the domain owner can gain control over the emails being sent on their behalf. DMARC can be used to safeguard your domains against email spoofing and phishing attacks.

Why Is DMARC an important part of email security?

As all professionals will surely agree, it’s crucial that the emails your customers and website visitors believe to be sent by you are legitimate, which is why DMARC email security is such an important part of a strong MSP email security solution.

There are nearly four billion email accounts worldwide, making it essentially the largest modern communication channel in existence. It’s no surprise then that cybercriminals consider the email channel to be a prime target. Crime on this channel shows no signs of slowing down, with more than half of surveyed companies at a recent Infosecurity London conference reporting that they continue to face phishing emails on a regular basis.

With DMARC email security, phishing attacks become visible and you can gain full insight into your email channels. DMARC is a powerful tool capable of mitigating the impact of malware and phishing attacks. In addition to helping your company avoid business email compromise and scams, it can also prevent spoofing and protect your business against brand abuse.

Not so many years ago, traditional email authentication techniques—DKIM and SPF—provided sufficient protection from email spoofing and phishing scams. However, as cybercriminals adapted to the landscape, attack techniques have evolved to bypass these security measures. To achieve high-security business email you should use DMARC, SPF, and DKIM in combination. DMARC will create a link between SPF and DKIM.

SPF is used to restrict which mail servers can send email for a specified domain name. This framework detects and blocks email spoofing. When signing outgoing messages with DKIM, the recipient can verify the respective message is indeed from the correct sender and its content hasn’t been altered. When you apply DKIM, it reduces the chance of identifying emails as spam and discourages others from spoofing your email—particularly when combined with SPF. DMARC provides the best protection when utilized alongside both SPF and DKIM.

When implemented into your DNS record, DMARC email security will give you invaluable insight into your email channel, helping you establish a more comprehensive and robust email security solution.

How do you implement DMARC?

The process of implementing DMARC is fairly simple, especially if you work with a DNS server administrator. Your DNS server administrator should be able to add your DMARC record to your DNS so you can begin monitoring your chosen domain. You will start receiving reports, which will give you insight into where email traffic using that domain is coming from. In doing so, you might identify some vendors, platforms, or partners you didn’t realize were sending emails on your behalf.

Choosing the right email security solution

As this guide has already mentioned, the most secure business email solution involves a layered security approach. A powerful, high-security email solution should add layers of security and should include SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. Fortunately, there are email security solutions on the market that can help you establish secure business email, prevent email spoofing, and keep your email encrypted by combining DMARC, SPF, and DKIM.

Organisations and employees are targets for increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks designed to steal money, credentials, customer data, and other valuable intellectual property. Mimecast Targeted Threat Protection defends against spear-phishing, ransomware, impersonation, and other targeted email attacks.