Have you noticed the increased discussion around email authentication lately?

There’s a good reason for it. Phishing remains a significant security threat, being the main cause of data breaches and security incidents for many years.

A significant shift in the email landscape is underway, driven by the need to combat phishing scams. Email authentication is now becoming a requirement for email service providers. It’s crucial for your online presence and communication to pay attention to this shift.

Two of the world’s largest email providers, Google and Yahoo, have implemented a new DMARC policy that came into effect in February 2024. This policy essentially makes email authentication essential, particularly for businesses using Gmail and Yahoo Mail.

But what exactly is DMARC, and why is it suddenly so important? Let’s delve into the world of email authentication and help you understand why it’s more critical than ever for your business.

The Email Spoofing Problem

Picture this: you receive an email that appears to be from your bank, urgently requesting your action. You click a link, provide your details, and just like that – your information is compromised.

This deceptive practice is known as email spoofing. Scammers disguise their email addresses to appear as legitimate individuals or organizations. They often spoof a business’s email address and then email customers and vendors, pretending to be that business.

These fraudulent tactics can have severe consequences for companies, including:

  • Financial losses
  • Reputational damage
  • Data breaches
  • Loss of future business

Unfortunately, email spoofing is on the rise, making email authentication a critical defense measure.

email authentication

What is Email Authentication?

Email authentication is a way of verifying that your email is legitimate. This includes verifying the server sending the email. It also includes reporting back unauthorized uses of a company domain.

Email authentication uses three key protocols, and each has a specific job:

  1. SPF (Sender Policy Framework)
    Records the IP addresses authorized to send email for a domain.
  2. DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail)
    Allows domain owners to digitally “sign” emails, verifying legitimacy.
  3. 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:

  1. You set up a DMARC record in your domain server settings. This record informs email receivers (like Google and Yahoo). It tells them the IP addresses authorized to send emails on your behalf.
  2. What happens next? Your sent email arrives at the receiver’s mail server. It is looking to see if the email is from an authorized sender.
  3. Based on your DMARC policy, the receiver can take action. This includes delivery, rejection, or quarantine.
  4. You get reporting back from the DMARC authentication. The reports let you know if your business email is being delivered. It also tells you if scammers are spoofing your domain.

Why Google & Yahoo’s New DMARC Policy Matters

Both Google and Yahoo have provided some level of spam filtering in the past, but they haven’t strictly enforced DMARC policies. With the implementation of the new DMARC policy, email security standards have been significantly raised.

As of February 2024, businesses sending over 5,000 emails daily are now required to have DMARC implemented.

Additionally, both companies have introduced policies for those sending fewer emails, focusing on SPF and DKIM authentication. It’s important to note that email authentication requirements are likely to continue evolving. Therefore, it’s essential to stay informed to ensure the smooth delivery of your business emails.

    email authentication

    The Benefits of Implementing DMARC

    Implementing DMARC isn’t just about complying with new policies. It offers a range of benefits for your business:

    • Protects brand reputation
      DMARC helps prevent email spoofing scams. These scams could damage your brand image and customer trust.
    • Improves 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.

    Taking Action: How to Put DMARC in Place

    Implementing DMARC is crucial now. This is especially true considering the rising email security concerns with email spoofing. Here’s how to get started:

    • Understand your DMARC options
    • Consult your IT team or IT security provider
    • Track and adjust regularly

    Article used with permission from The Technology Press.