There are a lot of initiatives that fall on your team’s shoulders, so I’m sure there’s the question in the back of your mind: Is DMARC worth the effort it takes to implement at p=reject? Like many security initiatives, there are risks and costs that come from hypothetical scenarios. But email authentication with DMARC is unique: In addition to closing an attack vector (exact-domain phishing attacks) and reducing hypothetical costs, DMARC also produces real cost savings and revenue enhancement.
Recent studies by the Global Cyber Alliance and Forrester highlighted some of the cost benefits associated with DMARC at enforcement. It’s the first time we can clearly see some independently verified numbers on the benefit of DMARC.
Check out our full DMARC ROI infographic for the details in an accessible, visual form — and feel free to share this infographic on your own blog or social media posts!
And now, let’s talk about the options for implementing and maintaining a DMARC strategy.
Getting DMARC to a policy of enforcement is notoriously tedious. It’s different for every team, so instead of diving into cost, let’s look at the implementation timeline and risks for various scenarios.
DIY: For implementing DMARC in-house, our research shows that it generally takes 12+ months on average. And that’s with 2-3 dedicated employees. Even with the most talented employees, there are limitations presented by the standards, like the SPF 10-Domain Lookup Limit. Other risks include misidentifying or missing senders (blocking good email) or misconfigured SPF or DKIM records.
Consultative: Working with a consultant or a first-generation (reporting-only) DMARC vendor still leaves the pressure on your team to complete the real work. That generally takes about 9-12 months. Since they have some technology and expertise, the risk associated with the program decreases, but the limitations with the standards do not. That creates an additional maintenance issue for the 1-2 employees it will take to manage the implementation and upkeep.
Automation (this is what Valimail does): A truly automated solution can achieve protection in about 4 months on average. Because of the automated service identification and configuration, not only is the risk eliminated, but it takes less than 20% of a dedicated employee’s time to help confirm which services should or should not be authorized.
Regardless of the path you choose, if you are certain that all senders have been identified and configurations are done and managed correctly, there is very little risk associated with implementing DMARC to a policy of enforcement.
Note: These numbers are based on public DNS records scanned by Valimail. You can find more custom DNS research here.
Assessing the Risks
Business email compromise (BEC) is a very real problem that DMARC at enforcement reduces. The FBI estimatesthat BEC attacks accounted for $12.5 billion in costs worldwide over 5 years.
- 45-75 BEC attacks/year directed at the average company
- 5-15 percent of BEC attacks use exact-domain spoofing
- More than 50 percent of companies saw their domains impersonated in Q3 2018 in order to launch phishing attacks against employees
If you’re unlucky enough to have BEC impact your organization, the associated costs will be significant.
Taking a variety of research sources into account and modeling the risks of BEC, the Global Cyber Alliance estimates that millions are lost annually from BEC attacks. 5% – 15% of these attacks can be stopped by DMARC at enforcement. For a large enterprise, that amounts to $302,000 – $1.3M per year:
- assuming that only 1% of BEC emails lead to some kind of user action (clicking on a link, dialing a fraudulent phone number, etc.), leads to costs of $302,000/year.
- If the BEC action rate grows to 5%, the cost for an enterprise is $1.3M/year.
A layered defense to email security is necessary to address the remaining percentage of attacks.
Even if the attackers don’t succeed, the reputational damage can impact your revenues.
- The monetary cost of reputational damage from cybersecurity incidents is $8,000 to $240,000 per incident.
- Customers are 42% less likely to engage with a brand after being phished
The Value of DMARC at Enforcement
Let’s say your business never get attacked or has a breach. Lucky you! But you are still missing out on the monetary benefits associated with email authentication with DMARC.
- Forrester estimates that, for a typical large enterprise, DMARC at enforcement leads to savings of $2.4M/year. This benefit comes from:
- An increased return from customer engagement with outbound emails
- reduced need for customer support
- lower cost of cybersecurity insurance
- The average customer deploying DMARC at enforcement sees a 5 to 10 percent increase in deliverability for marketing emails.
- With a mail volume of 100,000 messages/month and average deliverability of 80%, that translates into 4,000 – 8,000 more email messages that make it to your prospects’ inboxes every month.
And these are annual, recurring benefits.
Depending on the implementation method you choose, it may take a bit longer to recoup your investment. No matter which method you choose, a longer timeline and employee costs with cut into your ROI. And for every year that you do not have a DMARC enforcement policy, you’re leaving money on the table.
However, If you can get DMARC done quickly and correctly, the value will always outweigh the risk for years to come.