Demystifying DMARC Policies: Enhancing Email Security with Precision

In the digital age, email has become a cornerstone of communication, both personally and professionally. However, with the convenience and ubiquity of email comes a host of security challenges, chief among them being email spoofing and phishing attacks. To combat these threats, organizations are turning to DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) policies. In this blog post, we’ll delve into what DMARC policies are, why they’re needed, and provide examples to illustrate their importance.

Understanding DMARC Policies:

DMARC is an email authentication protocol that builds on two existing mechanisms: SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail). SPF allows senders to specify which IP addresses are authorized to send emails on behalf of a domain, while DKIM adds a digital signature to emails, verifying their authenticity.

DMARC goes a step further by providing a framework for receivers (mail servers) to determine how to handle emails that fail SPF and DKIM checks. It allows domain owners to publish policies instructing receivers on how to handle such emails, whether to deliver them, quarantine them, or reject them outright.

Why DMARC is Needed:

  1. Preventing Email Spoofing: Email spoofing involves forging the sender’s address to make it appear as if the email originated from a trusted source. DMARC helps prevent this by allowing domain owners to specify strict policies for email authentication.
  2. Combatting Phishing Attacks: Phishing emails often impersonate legitimate entities to trick recipients into divulging sensitive information or downloading malicious content. DMARC helps identify and block these fraudulent emails, thereby safeguarding users against phishing attacks.
  3. Enhancing Email Deliverability: By implementing DMARC policies, organizations can improve their email deliverability rates. ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and email providers are more likely to deliver emails from domains with properly configured DMARC records, reducing the risk of legitimate emails being marked as spam.

Examples of DMARC Policies in Action:

  1. Reject Policy: A domain owner sets a DMARC policy to “reject,” instructing receivers to reject any emails that fail both SPF and DKIM checks. This ensures that only authenticated emails from authorized senders are delivered to recipients.
  2. Quarantine Policy: In a quarantine policy, emails that fail authentication checks are diverted to the recipient’s spam or quarantine folder rather than being outright rejected. This provides an additional layer of protection while allowing recipients to review potentially suspicious emails.
  3. Monitoring Policy: Some domain owners initially opt for a “monitoring” policy, where DMARC reports are generated and sent to the specified email address without taking any action on failing emails. This allows organizations to assess the impact of implementing DMARC before enforcing stricter policies.

Example DMARC Policies:

Reject Policy:

 v=DMARC1; p=reject;;; fo=1; pct=100; aspf=r; adkim=r


  • v=DMARC1: Indicates the DMARC version being used.
  • p=reject: Instructs receivers to reject any emails that fail both SPF and DKIM checks.
  • Specifies the email address where aggregate DMARC reports should be sent.
  • Specifies the email address where forensic DMARC reports should be sent.
  • fo=1: Indicates that forensic reports should be generated if the DMARC policy fails.
  • pct=100: Specifies that the DMARC policy should be applied to 100% of emails.
  • aspf=r: Specifies relaxed alignment mode for SPF.
  • adkim=r: Specifies relaxed alignment mode for DKIM.

Quarantine Policy:

 v=DMARC1; p=quarantine;;; fo=1; pct=100; aspf=r; adkim=r


  • p=quarantine: Instructs receivers to quarantine emails that fail authentication checks by diverting them to the recipient’s spam or quarantine folder.
  • Other parameters remain the same as in the “Reject Policy” example.

Monitoring Policy:

 v=DMARC1; p=none;;; fo=1; pct=100; aspf=r; adkim=r


  • p=none: Specifies that no action should be taken on failing emails. This is typically used for monitoring purposes.
  • Other parameters remain the same as in the previous examples.

Minimum Policy:

v=DMARC1; p=none;


  • p=none: This tag sets the DMARC policy to “none,” which means no specific action will be taken on emails that fail the DMARC checks. Instead of rejecting or quarantining these emails, the policy instructs email receivers to generate and send DMARC reports to the domain owner without enforcing any strict action on the failed emails.
  • Other parameters remain the same as in the previous examples.

These sample DMARC policies demonstrate how domain owners can configure DMARC to enforce different levels of email authentication and handling based on their security requirements and risk tolerance.


In an era where cyber threats continue to evolve, securing email communication is paramount for organizations of all sizes. DMARC policies serve as a powerful tool in the fight against email fraud, offering granular control over email authentication and helping protect both senders and recipients from malicious activities. By understanding and implementing DMARC policies effectively, organizations can bolster their email security posture and foster trust among their stakeholders in an increasingly digital world.