Vulnerabilities / Threats
2/5/2013
06:23 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Fake Email Dies Under DMARC Regime

Authentication and cooperation, made possible by the DMARC framework, cut down on email domain abuse.

A year ago, some of the world's largest email services began ordering the quarantine or deletion of messages sent in their names. The result of this mass execution is being hailed as a resounding success.

On Wednesday, DMARC, an industry group founded by leading technology, financial service, social and media companies in early 2012 to fight email fraud, announced that its message authentication technology now protects almost 2 billion of the world's 3.3 billion consumer inboxes and 80% of the consumer inboxes in the United States.

Some of the companies that have implemented DMARC's technology include Amazon, American Greetings, Apple, Bank of America, Blizzard Entertainment, Booking.com, eBay, Facebook, FedEx, Fidelity Investments, Google, Groupon, JP Morgan Chase, LinkedIn, LivingSocial, Microsoft, Netflix, PayPal, Tagged, Twitter, Western Union, Yelp, YouTube and Zynga.

[ Want new ideas on securing customer information? Read 6 Steps To Better Customer Data Protection. ]

DMARC stands for domain-based message authentication, reporting and conformance. Supported by email security providers Agari, Cloudmark, Return Path and Trusted Domain Project, it is a framework by which email senders can authenticate legitimate messages and can exchange information with receiving entities about how to handle unauthenticated messages -- monitor them, quarantine them or delete them.

In just the last two months of 2012, 325 million messages were rejected by mailbox providers for being unauthenticated. Such messages are often spam, phishing attacks or other forms of brand or domain spoofing -- in this case, 49 million of the rejected messages were from highly phished domains. Some of these messages may come from within an organization, via unsecured mail servers, while others may carry forged header information or come from confusingly similar domains.

"What brands are doing is shutting down these avenues of large-scale, orchestrated attacks," said Trent Adams, chair of DMARC.org and senior policy advisor at PayPal, in a phone interview. "The mailbox providers finally have a way to take definitive action on fraudulent mail."

Though based on authentication technologies, like SPF and DKIM, DMARC's value comes from combining message security with collaboration and business intelligence. Email senders that publish DMARC policies receive feedback reports from DMARC-compliant message recipients about unauthenticated messages purporting to come from any of the sending organization's domains.

These reports provide visibility into an organization's email stream and allow the organization to take enforcement action if necessary, explained Adams.

Such data matters to businesses because it's often a surprise. Reviewing a case study provided by Message Bus, Adams described how an unnamed, large, international conglomerate decided to test whether its domains were being spoofed. The company deployed a DMARC monitor record to gather information about unauthenticated email messages that people were receiving from its domains. It found that only 36% of messages that purported to come from the company actually originated from company servers. About 61% of the messages were from unknown and possibly malicious senders, while 3% was forwarded, through discussion lists or other mechanisms.

"That kind of business intelligence is a wakeup call to any organization," said Adams. "This is not an edge case. We hear this time and time again. Companies put out a monitor policy to see what the waters look like and they find they have a much larger problem."

Adams also cited the example of an unnamed, large, online auction company that saw a 32% decrease in phishing attempts and 62% less unauthorized account access following DMARC deployment. Coincidentally, eBay was an early DMARC adopter.

Krish Vitaldevara, principal group program manager for Microsoft's Outlook.com, said that the need for the security DMARC provides is reflected in how rapidly email senders and receivers are adopting the framework.

While 100% adoption and an end to domain spoofing may be too much to hope for, Adams likens DMARC to an inoculation campaign. If you can get a large enough percentage of the population inoculated, then everyone will be protected, he said.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
PJS880
50%
50%
PJS880,
User Rank: Ninja
2/15/2013 | 3:39:07 PM
re: Fake Email Dies Under DMARC Regime
That is an incredibly large user base and an extremely large percentage of the market as well. What is not shocking is the amount of spam, phishing, and just junk emails; I would have thought this number too much higher. Adams hit the nail on the head with this being a wake-up call, that the snooze button continues to get hit on, even with shattering results and information that companies are supplied with. It is nice that DMARC exists for companies to get specific statistics about their organization, as well better protect themselves.

Paul Sprague
InformationWeek Contributor
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Flash Poll
Current Issue
Cartoon
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-0972
Published: 2014-08-01
The kgsl graphics driver for the Linux kernel 3.x, as used in Qualcomm Innovation Center (QuIC) Android contributions for MSM devices and other products, does not properly prevent write access to IOMMU context registers, which allows local users to select a custom page table, and consequently write ...

CVE-2014-2627
Published: 2014-08-01
Unspecified vulnerability in HP NonStop NetBatch G06.14 through G06.32.01, H06 through H06.28, and J06 through J06.17.01 allows remote authenticated users to gain privileges for NetBatch job execution via unknown vectors.

CVE-2014-3009
Published: 2014-08-01
The GDS component in IBM InfoSphere Master Data Management - Collaborative Edition 10.0 through 11.0 and InfoSphere Master Data Management Server for Product Information Management 9.0 and 9.1 does not properly handle FRAME elements, which makes it easier for remote authenticated users to conduct ph...

CVE-2014-3302
Published: 2014-08-01
user.php in Cisco WebEx Meetings Server 1.5(.1.131) and earlier does not properly implement the token timer for authenticated encryption, which allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive information via a crafted URL, aka Bug ID CSCuj81708.

CVE-2014-3534
Published: 2014-08-01
arch/s390/kernel/ptrace.c in the Linux kernel before 3.15.8 on the s390 platform does not properly restrict address-space control operations in PTRACE_POKEUSR_AREA requests, which allows local users to obtain read and write access to kernel memory locations, and consequently gain privileges, via a c...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio