DMARC, short for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance, is an email authentication protocol designed to give domain owners the power to protect their domain from unauthorized use, often referred to as email spoofing. DMARC is like the director of an email security movie, overseeing the actions of its lead actors - SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail).

How does DMARC work?

Before we delve further into the email security labyrinth, let's break down how DMARC works. Essentially, it builds on the foundations of SPF and DKIM. When an email hits an inbox, the receiving server checks if the email passed the SPF and DKIM tests. Then DMARC jumps in to see if the SPF-authenticated domain or DKIM-authenticated domain aligns with the domain in the ‘From’ header. If everything checks out, the email is delivered. If not, DMARC tells the receiving server what to do based on the policy specified by the domain owner - report the failure, send the email to spam, or reject the email outright.

What is DMARC for?

So, what's the whole point of DMARC? It's all about creating trust and enhancing email deliverability. DMARC lets the domain owner assert control over who can send emails on behalf of their domain. By doing so, it helps to prevent phishing scams and spam, building a trusting relationship between the email sender and the receiver. And as we all know, in the world of email communication, trust is paramount.

Now, you might be scratching your head, thinking, 'How is DMARC different from DKIM again?' Well, while they are both tools in your email security kit, their roles are quite distinct. DKIM allows the receiving server to verify that an email was truly sent from the domain it claims to originate from and hasn't been tampered with during transit. On the other hand, DMARC leverages the power of both SPF and DKIM, checks alignment with the 'From' header, and applies a policy based on the domain owner's preference when authentication checks fail.

How to setup DMARC

The best way to setup DMARC is to follow these steps below. Alternatively, you can use a platform like that offers automated DMARC setups.

Creating a DMARC record involves creating a TXT record in your Domain Name System (DNS) with specific syntax that defines your DMARC policy. Here's a step-by-step process to create a DMARC record:

Step 1: Define your DMARC policy

Decide how you want receivers to handle emails that fail DMARC checks. Here are your options:

  • None (p=none): The receiver takes no action. Use this policy to collect feedback and understand your email streams.
  • Quarantine (p=quarantine): The receiver flags the emails as suspicious, typically moving them to the spam or junk folder.
  • Reject (p=reject): The receiver rejects the message outright, providing the strongest protection.

Step 2: Create your DMARC TXT record

The basic format for a DMARC TXT record is:

v=DMARC1; p=policy; rua=mailto:email; ruf=mailto:email;

In this:

  • v=DMARC1 is the version.
  • p=policy is where you specify your policy (none, quarantine, or reject).
  • rua=mailto:email is where you'll receive aggregate reports from receivers. Replace email with your email address.
  • ruf=mailto:email is where you'll receive forensic reports from receivers. Again, replace email with your email address.

Step 3: Add the DMARC record to your DNS

Once you have your DMARC record, add it to your domain's DNS records as a TXT record. The name of the record should be, replacing with your actual domain. The value will be the DMARC policy you created in step 2.

Step 4: Test your DMARC record

Finally, test your DMARC record using an online DMARC record checker to ensure it's valid and properly set up.

Remember, DMARC records can get more complex, allowing for additional tags to adjust policies for subdomains, set policy enforcement levels, and more. But this gives you a basic, solid start to DMARC implementation.

What is the difference between DKIM and DMARC?

You might have been thrown off by the term "MARC key," as DMARC doesn't use keys like DKIM does. Rather, DMARC uses DNS TXT records (like the one you set up) to convey the DMARC policies for your domain. So when we talk about DMARC in DNS, it's about these policy records, not keys.

And there you have it, a complete rundown of DMARC! While the world of email security may seem confusing at first, understanding how each component, like DMARC, functions can help to reduce the complexity. Now you're equipped with knowledge about DMARC and ready to enhance your email security game ensuring maximum email deliverability.

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