Who's publishing DMARC?
DMARC is a way for a domain owner to say “If you see this domain in a From: header and it’s not been sent straight from us, please don’t deliver the mail”. If a domain is only used for bulk and transactional mail, it can mitigate a subset of phishing attacks without causing too many problems for legitimate email.
In other cases, it can cause significant problems. Some of those problems impact discussion lists, but others cause problems for ESPs servicing small companies and individuals. ESP customers use their email addresses in the From: field; if they’re a small customer using the email address provided by their ISP, and that ISP publishes a DMARC record with p=reject, a large chunk of the mail they’re sending will bounce. When that happens recipients will stop getting their email, they’ll be removed from the mailing list due to bounces, and there’s some risk of blocks being raised against the sending IP address.
Because of that, it’s good to be able to see what consumer ISPs are doing with DMARC.
I’ve created a tool at dmarc.wordtothewise.com that regularly checks a list of large consumer ISPs and webmail providers and sees what DMARC records they’re publishing.
There are two main variants of DMARC records.
One is policy “reject” – meaning that mail that isn’t authenticated (or for which authentication has been broken in transit) will likely be rejected.
The other is policy “none” – meaning that the ISP publishing the record doesn’t want recipients to change their delivery decisions, but are asking for feedback about their mailstream, and how much of it fails authentication. That can mean that the ISP is evaluating whether or not to publish p=REJECT, or is in the process of deploying p=REJECT. Or it can just mean that they’re using DMARC to monitor where mail using their domain in the From: address is being sent from. There’s no way to tell which is the case unless they’ve made an announcement about their plans.
Hopefully this will be a useful tool to monitor DMARC deployment by consumer ISPs, and to help diagnose delivery problems that may be caused by DMARC.