If you have noticed more buzz about email authentication lately, there is a very good reason for it: Phishing continues to grow as the main cause of data breaches and security incidents. This is not new at all – it’s been the case for quite a few years now.

What is happening right now represents a major shift in the email security landscape, and it’s based on combatting phishing scams. Email authentication is becoming a requirement for email service providers. It’s crucial to your online presence and communication to pay attention to this shift.

Two of the world's largest email providers are Google and Yahoo, and they have both implemented a new DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) policy that took effect in February 2024. This policy basically makes email authentication essential. It’s targeted at businesses sending emails through Gmail and Yahoo Mail.

What is DMARC, and why is it suddenly so important? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Let's dive into the world of email authentication. We’ll help you understand why it's more critical than ever for your business.

Fight Email Spoofing

Let’s suppose you an email that appears to come from your bank that requests urgent action. You click a link, and BAM! Now you have Ransomware – or, if you were taken to a spoofed (copied) bank site and entered your details, your information is compromised in some other fashion.

Email spoofing is what this is commonly called. It’s where scammers disguise their email addresses and try to appear as legitimate individuals or organizations. Scammers spoof, or copy, a business’s email address, logos, signatures, and websites etc. Then they email customers and vendors pretending to be that business.

Deceptive tactics like this not only victimize consumers, but they can also have devastating consequences for businesses. These include:

Financial losses

Reputational damage

Data breaches

Loss of future business

Email spoofing is a rapidly growing problem, making email authentication a critical defense measure.

What is authentication and why do we need it?

Simply put, email authentication is a way of verifying that your email is legitimate. This includes verifying the server sending the email and reporting back unauthorized uses of a company domain.

This type of authentication uses three key protocols, and each has a specific job:

SPF (Sender Policy Framework): Records the IP addresses authorized to send email for a domain.

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail): Allows domain owners to digitally “sign” emails, verifying legitimacy.

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance): Gives instructions to a receiving email server. Including, what to do with the results of an SPF and DKIM check. It also alerts domain owners that their domain is being spoofed.

SPF and DKIM are protective steps. DMARC provides information critical to security enforcement. It helps keep scammers from using your domain name in spoofing attempts.

Here's how it works:

First, you set up a DMARC record in your domain server settings. This record informs email receivers like Google and Yahoo, the IP addresses authorized to send emails on your behalf.

Next, the email you sent arrives at the receiver’s mail server, which will look to see if the email is from an authorized sender.

Based on your DMARC policy, the receiver can then take action, including delivery, rejection, or quarantine.

The DMARC authentication process includes sending you reports that let you know if your business email is being delivered. It also tells you if scammers are spoofing your domain.

Why do Google & Yahoo's New DMARC Policies Matter?

Some level of spam filtering is offered by both Google and Yahoo, but they haven't strictly enforced DMARC policies until now. The new DMARC policy raises the bar on email security.

The new rule took place starting in February 2024, and businesses sending over 5,000 emails daily are required to have DMARC implemented.

Both Google and Yahoo also have policies for those sending fewer emails. These relate to SPF and DKIM authentication.

You can almost certainly expect email authentication requirements to continue. It will be wise to pay attention to ensure the smooth, uninterrupted delivery of your business email.

The Benefits of Implementing DMARC:

While implementing DMARC is about maintaining compliance with new policies, there’s more to it than just that. There are a range of benefits to be had for your business:

Brand reputation protection: DMARC helps prevent email spoofing scams. These scams could damage your brand image and customer trust.

Improvement to email deliverability: Proper authentication ensures delivery. Your legitimate emails reach recipients' inboxes instead of spam folders.

Provides valuable insights: DMARC reports offer detailed information. They give visibility into how different receivers are handling your emails as well as help you identify potential issues. They also improve your email security posture.

How to Put DMARC in Place

It is crucial to implement DMARC right now. This is especially true considering the rising email security concerns with email spoofing.

How to get started:

Understand your DMARC options

Consult your internal IT Support or outsource Managed IT Services provider

Track and adjust regularly

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Google enforcing DMARC?

Gmail will begin using a DMARC quarantine enforcement policy, and impersonating Gmail ‘From’: headers might impact your email delivery. If you manage a forwarding service, including mailing lists or inbound gateways, add ARC headers to outgoing email.

What is the difference between email spoofing and spam?

Spam is typically just annoying advertising, but with spoofing, emails are made to look as if they come from you, when in fact they don't. This often happens when your account has been compromised. The spammer may have stolen your contacts and then sent emails to them by forging the sending address to look as if it's come from you.

Can I stop my email from being spoofed?

Yes: as an ordinary user, you can stop email spoofing by choosing a secure email provider and practicing good cybersecurity hygiene: Use throwaway accounts when registering in sites. That way, your private email address won't appear in shady lists used for sending spoofed email messages in bulk.

What happens if you open a spoofed email?

Simply opening it doesn’t usually do anything beyond giving the scammer the ability to gather your IP address, the Operating System (OS) that you use and your location, which is not advisable. BUT the real trouble starts if you click on links or attachments in the email.

How secure is your network?

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Need Help with Email Authentication & DMARC Monitoring?

DMARC is just one piece of the email security puzzle. It’s important to put email authentication in place. This is one of many security measures required in the modern digital environment. Need help putting these protocols in place? Just let us know.

Contact us today to schedule a chat and take advantage of our FREE network and Cybersecurity assessment.