May 31, 2012, 3:32 PM — E-card company American Greetings has turned to DMARC as a way to authenticate its email and protect its corporate name from being sullied by spammers and phishers.
That's not surprising given that the company helped develop DMARC (domain-based message authentication, reporting and conformance), but it has enlisted a DMARC collaborator to carry out the effort.
Rather than build its own infrastructure, the e-card vendor hired Agari, a 2-year-old company that helped write DMARC and now offers it up as a cloud-based service.
As part of the service, Agari analyzes the data gathered about American Greetings by major email providers that also support DMARC -- AOL, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo -- as well as trends gleaned from data gathered about other Agari customers, says Daniel Raskin, vice president of marketing for Agari.
DMARC layers policy enforcement atop two established spam/phishing detection schemes so emails that fail authentication can be flagged, quarantined or blocked. That can prevent emails with spoofed domains from ever being delivered, thereby cutting down on the incidents of malicious activity that become associated with brand names and hurt business.
That is good for American Greetings because DMARC interferes with very little legitimate email and is a mechanism for preventing emails that spoof the company's domain from reaching end users, says Michael Hammer, Web operations security manager for the company. "The concrete benefit to any recipient of email from our domains is that they can now ask their ISP or Mail Administrator to validate mail originating from our domains (and an increasing number of other organizations' domains) to determine if it really came from our domains," Hammer says in an email response to questions.
DMARC doesn't actually determine whether email is spam; it determines whether email passes authentication as carried out by sender policy framework (SPF) and DomainKeys identified mail (DKIM), two established methods.
SPF allows administrators to specify which devices in their domain are allowed to send email, and leaves a message to that effect in the domain name system (DNS). Recipients of email can check with the DNS to find out whether senders are authorized to send from a particular domain. If they are not, the recipient may choose not to reject those messages.