Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

3/6/2017
02:45 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

FTC Report Highlights Low DMARC Adoption

New Federal Trade Commission research discovers most online businesses employ email authentication, but few use DMARC to combat phishing.

A new Federal Trade Commission Office of Technology Research and Investigation (OTech) report shows most organizations aren't fully utilizing the latest technology available to combat phishing, which is contributing to a growing distrust in email.

Email is a top attack vector for cybercriminals targeting the enterprise. Most major online businesses use email authentication to fight threats, but they could do more, experts say, by automatically telling servers to reject unauthenticated emails.

"One of the main concerns around email is it's very effective -- if it's trusted," says Alexander García-Tobar, CEO at ValiMail. "Trust has become a very large issue recently," amid the increase in impersonation attacks.

OTech evaluated more than 500 businesses with "a significant online presence" and discovered most (86%) employ Sender Policy Framework (SPF), a domain-level authentication they can use to determine an IP address to send email, and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), which lets them use digital signatures to verify message authenticity.

Only one-third employ Domain Message Authentication Reporting & Conformance (DMARC), a standard technology that verifies whether an email is truly from the domain it claims to be from. It instructs receiving servers to delete fraudulent messages upon arrival so users don’t see them, and only lets in authenticated emails. Part of the benefit is creating a whitelist of verified senders.

Organizations can also use DMARC to gather feedback on how scammers are misusing their information in phishing attacks. "The owner of a domain will be able to say, 'these are all the people, all the servers across the world who try to send something as me,'" explains García-Tobar.

Of the businesses that have implemented DMARC, OTech discovered less than 10% are using the strongest available setting, which tells recipients to reject unauthenticated messages.

There are several reasons why adoption is lagging, García-Tobar says. First off, DMARC is not broadly known.

"There's very low awareness of the DMARC standard," which was compiled by technical committees and hasn't had a strong marketing drive behind it. Awareness is on the uptick, however, thanks to adoption by tech giants like Google and Microsoft. The FTC recognizing DMARC's importance is another sign awareness is starting to spread, he continues.

Companies aware of DMARC often struggle to propery deploy it. Yes, there are technical difficulties, but many problems stem from disagreement over what the corporate whitelist should include.

"It sounds easy to say, 'I'm going to declare which servers are allowed to send [emails] as me, but it's not actually that easy," García-Tobar says. "This requires internal investigations and discussions about who is allowed to send as you."

Because of this, it's often difficult for large global organizations to define the whitelist. Until they have their technical details in place, many businesses end up with a DMARC record but no enforcement.

García-Tobar expects DMARC adoption to grow at a faster clip this year. As more businesses begin to use it, awareness will continue to spread, as will the desire to correctly implement the standard and use it well.

"People are starting to acknowledge that the way email is functioning today cannot continue if email is going to be an effective communication platform," he explains. "The fact that we have a federal agency supporting DMARC is very encouraging."

Related Content:

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
The Security of Cloud Applications
Hillel Solow, CTO and Co-founder, Protego,  7/11/2019
Where Businesses Waste Endpoint Security Budgets
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/15/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: "SpearPhish! Everyone out of the office!"
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-10100
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-17
tinymce 4.7.11, 4.7.12 is affected by: CWE-79: Improper Neutralization of Input During Web Page Generation. The impact is: JavaScript code execution. The component is: Media element. The attack vector is: The victim must paste malicious content to media element's embed tab.
CVE-2019-12175
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-17
In Zeek Network Security Monitor (formerly known as Bro) before 2.6.2, a NULL pointer dereference in the Kerberos (aka KRB) protocol parser leads to DoS because a case-type index is mishandled.
CVE-2019-12475
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-17
In MicroStrategy Web before 10.4.6, there is stored XSS in metric due to insufficient input validation.
CVE-2019-13346
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-17
In MyT 1.5.1, the User[username] parameter has XSS.
CVE-2019-13403
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-17
Temenos CWX version 8.9 has an Broken Access Control vulnerability in the module /CWX/Employee/EmployeeEdit2.aspx, leading to the viewing of user information.