How to Combat Fake Emails with Email Authentication? DMARC Adoption in Australia

Threat actors commonly manipulate digital communications to compromise systems. For example, an adversary might use social engineering to convince a target to open a malicious attachment or follow a link to a site hosted on an attacker-controlled server. And what is a better way to reach potential targets, than fake emails?

These days email is a universal form of communication. Everyone uses it and everyone can receive it. Hence initiators have taken advantage of this by spamming the networking system. By modifying headers, senders’ addresses, and using key personalities as aliases, they make their link look genuine and we generally ignore checking for the real one.

Organizations can better protect their users against fake emails by ensuring their email systems use and apply email authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC policies on inbound emails. Email authentication has been proven to be effective in combating fake emails and upholding brand integrity and domain reputation.

Why Does Australia Need DMARC Immediately?

In 2020 alone, Australian businesses reported a loss of $176.1 million to scam, 75% of which was due to phishing attacks, deployed using fake emails. The amount of financial damage caused has almost doubled since 2019 and is expected to only increase as we reach the end of 2021.

However, in comparison to the US, the DMARC adoption rate in Australia is considerably low. In order to combat fake emails, Australian businesses should immediately implement DMARC alongside other email authentication and security protocols to mark their domain safe from impersonation and abuse. This would in turn reduce financial damages caused by data breaches and cybercrime.

How Does Email Authentication Work?

Authenticating Your Sources with SPF

The process of verifying your emails and making them safe starts with authenticating your sending sources with Sender Policy Framework (SPF). It is an easy way to reduce email spam and detect fake emails. At a high level, it works by letting you set up DNS records that designate which mail servers are eligible to send your domain’s email. When a legitimate mail server tries to send an email on your behalf, the receiving mail server validates the identity of the sending server with your published SPF record.

Challenges faced by domain owners

While using SPF domain owners may:

  • Exceed the 10 DNS lookup limit
  • Exceed the 512 characters SPF record length
  • Not be aware of changes implemented by their ESPs

Auto SPF flattening tools cater to these challenges to help in seamless protocol implementation and experience with an optimized SPF record.

Assign Cryptographic Signatures to your outbound emails with DKIM

DKIM uses cryptography by including an additional header in each outgoing email that the sending mail server signed with its private key. Receiving mail servers can take these headers and use the public key to verify that the email wasn’t changed in transit. DKIM acts as an additional layer of security and can be used to mark the legitimacy of forwarded emails that may fail SPF.

How Does DMARC Complement SPF and DKIM?

Both SPF and DKIM have one common deficiency. The From: header, which is the visible header, can be easily manipulated by attackers to forge your domain and trick your recipients. DMARC helps you tip your hat to impersonators by aligning your From: header, return-path header, and DKIM signature header to find a match. In case no match is found, the DMARC policy defined by the domain owner then determines whether the fake email is delivered, marked as spam, or completely discarded.

DMARC reports allow you to make smarter decisions for your domains by viewing authentication results. In this report, you’ll be able to view domain-level authentication results and message-level authentication results for email that passes and fails SPF and DKIM checks, as well as forensic information about malicious activity on your domain.

Get even more out of your email channels in Australia with DMARC Report Analyzer. Register, enable and submit a DMARC policy that reports authentication results of your emails to you and helps you combat fake emails faster. Sign up for Free DMARC now.

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