Security Experts:

Few RSA Conference Exhibitors Implemented DMARC

A vast majority of the companies present this week at the 2018 RSA Conference in San Francisco have not implemented the DMARC email authentication system on their domains, opening the door to fraudulent and fake emails.

Valimail, a San Francisco-based company that provides email authentication solutions, has analyzed the primary domains of 553 RSA Conference exhibitors and discovered that only 5.1 percent (28 firms) have properly implemented DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance).

Valimail’s Domain Checker tool shows that the list of organizations whose domains are protected by DMARC includes Microsoft, F5 Networks, Splunk, Lookout, Malwarebytes, CrowdStrike, AlienVault, AWS and the U.S. Department of Justice.

The fact that the Justice Department is on this list is not surprising considering that the DHS issued a Binding Operational Directive (BOD) last year instructing all federal agencies to start using web and email security technologies such as HTTPS, STARTTLS and DMARC.

Valimail data shows that 18.6 percent of RSA Conference exhibitors have valid DMARC records, but have not enforced policies, which means their domains can still be impersonated by fraudsters and phishers.

More than 72 percent of the cybersecurity firms present at RSA have not bothered with DMARC at all, and four percent of them have invalid DMARC records.

Many RSA Conference exhibitors failed to implement DMARC

DMARC has been around for several years, but adoption rates are relatively low in both private sector organizations and government agencies. One would expect companies that provide cybersecurity services to ensure their domains are protected, but Valimail data shows the contrary.

However, Valimail has found that many of the RSA exhibitors do implement some form of email spoofing protection, namely Sender Policy Framework (SPF).

DMARC is based on the SPF email validation system and the DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) email authentication method. Valimail has found that 381 of the companies at RSA (representing nearly 69%) have valid SPF records for their domains.

“Phishing is one of the most common tactics employed by bad actors looking to defraud others, and impersonation attacks are the easiest variant to pull off,” Dylan Tweney, head of communications at Valimail, told SecurityWeek. “Despite DMARC being an open standard that, when used properly, will prevent these types of attacks, we’ve seen industry after industry struggle to adopt DMARC – and the cyber security industry is no different.”

“But today’s cloud service architecture makes it extremely difficult to properly implement and manage DMARC across a company, no matter what space you’re in. As companies look towards addressing this vulnerability, they need to look at tools like automation that can keep pace with today’s fluid email infrastructures,” Tweney added.

Related: DMARC in Higher Education - A Formidable Defense Against Targeted Scams

Related: DMARC Not Implemented on Most White House Email Domains

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.