DMARC set up preparation

DMARC Setup Stage 1- Preparation

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DMARC Report
DMARC Setup Stage 1- Preparation

The process of deploying DMARC is crucial but complicated. To avoid problems related to maintenance, modifications, reporting, and troubleshooting, it’s vital that you plan and record everything

We suggest that before you start creating or modifying DNS records to analyze DMARC data, you take care of two things for a smooth deployment:

  1. Creating a worksheet is a crucial step in the DMARC setup process. It allows you to record and organize all the necessary information about your domain, ensuring a smooth and well-documented deployment. This worksheet will serve as a control tool, helping you manage the process effectively and avoid any potential issues
  2. Alter the domain to a basic configuration so that you can begin easily. 

Why Should You Document Every Step of the DMARC Setup Process?

Documenting every step of the process during the deployment of DMARC is crucial for several reasons:

1. Tracking Progress

Documentation allows you to track the progress of the deployment, including when each step was completed and any issues encountered along the way. This helps ensure that the deployment stays on schedule and provides a clear record of achievements.

dmarc Setup

2. Troubleshooting

If any issues arise during the deployment process or afterward, having detailed documentation can help identify the root cause more quickly. It provides a reference point to backtrack, analyze, and troubleshoot problems effectively.

3. Knowledge Sharing

Documenting the deployment process allows you to share knowledge and insights with team members or other stakeholders involved in the project. This promotes collaboration, ensures everyone is on the same page, and empowers team members to contribute effectively.

4. Training and Onboarding

Documentation serves as a valuable resource for training new team members or onboarding individuals who may be responsible for managing DMARC in the future. It provides a comprehensive guide to understanding the deployment process, configuration settings, and best practices.

5. Compliance and Auditing

Detailed documentation is often required for compliance purposes and may be subject to audits. By documenting each step of the DMARC deployment, you can demonstrate compliance with relevant regulations and provide evidence of your organization’s efforts to enhance email security.

6. Continuous Improvement

Documenting the deployment process allows you to evaluate and refine your approach over time. By reviewing past deployments and analyzing documentation, you can identify areas for improvement, implement lessons learned, and optimize future deployments.

Creating a Worksheet for a Hassle-Free and Documented DMARC Setup Process

Strategize a way to organize the whole process of documenting the DMARC deployment process. Also, keep it simple, as fancy things get complicated and time-consuming. We suggest you go for a standard Google Spreadsheet or Microsoft Excel. Also, consider using Google Calendar to add reminders and plan a date-wise progress. If you are going for a spreadsheet, record the following details-

  • The domain name.
  • List of sender hosts– name, IP, DKIM selectors.
  • The starting and conclusion dates for each phase of the deployment.
  • Additional remarks that seem important.

Baseline Configuration

Reset the domain to a baseline configuration so that if SPF, DKIM, or DMARC DNS records are missing, they can be set up to collect DMARC reports without hindering the existing email delivery process

Then, alter the TTL values for SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records to smaller values. This will help propagate the changes across the DNS quickly, which is important during DMARC deployment. Set the TTL to 10 minutes or 600 seconds to prevent overburdening DNS server resources with frequent queries. Don’t revert TTL to any longer values throughout the DMARC deployment process

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Set up a softfail SPF record so that genuine messages don’t get rejected outright in the case of false positives

To imply softfail, use the ~all mechanism in your SPF record. Once done, configure DKIM on your email providers and servers. Don’t forget to put the DKIM record to the test mode using the t=y tag.

Lastly, the DMARC policy should be changed to none, as the first stage is only for monitoring.

Why Should You Start with p=none in DMARC?

Setting the policy to “none” is often considered the best starting point for implementing DMARC because it allows you to monitor and gather data about your domain’s email traffic without impacting email delivery. 

With the “none” policy, receiving mail servers continue to deliver emails as usual, regardless of whether they pass or fail DMARC authentication. This enables you to analyze DMARC reports to understand which sources are sending emails on your behalf and identify any unauthorized senders or issues with authentication.

By starting with a “none” policy, you can refine your DMARC configurations, gradually enforcing stricter policies (such as “quarantine” or “reject”) as you gain confidence in your email authentication setup and ensure legitimate emails are properly authenticated. This incremental approach minimizes the risk of disrupting legitimate email delivery while strengthening security measures against spoofing and phishing attacks.

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