Only Two-Thirds of Federal Domains Meet Email Security Deadline

Only Two-Thirds of Federal Domains Meet Email Security Deadline

In addition to the relatively low install rate, after a year of staggered deadlines to implement the tool, one-fifth of government agency web domains appear not to have even begun installing it, according to the Global Cyber Alliance.

About two-thirds (67 percent) of federal email domains met a Department of Homeland Security deadline Tuesday to install and be fully protected by a tool that guards against email phishing scams, according to research from the Global Cyber Alliance.

In addition to the relatively low install rate, after a year of staggered deadlines to implement the tool, one-fifth of government agency web domains appear not to have even begun installing it, according to the GCA.

Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance, known as DMARC, verifies an email sender’s identity by pinging a sender’s email domain to ask if the sender actually belongs to that organization. If the domain reports that the sender is illegitimate, DMARC can automatically deliver the email to the intended recipient’s spam folder or decline to deliver it at all.

In order to work, DMARC must be installed on both the sending and receiving inbox. More than 80 percent of commercial email inboxes have DMARC installed, as it is standard among major email providers like Google and Microsoft.

The tool is especially vital for federal government email domains, which could be used by phishers to try to scam citizens into giving them sensitive personal information related to taxes or government benefits like Medicare.

The 67 percent of government domains that had DMARC installed by the Tuesday deadline is a major increase from the 8 percent that were using the tool when Homeland Security issued the order to install it in 2017, according to Tom McDermott, the department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cyber Policy.

Homeland Security plans “to get very close to 100 percent” adoption of the tool “in the near future,” McDermott said.

Defense agencies are not required to comply with Homeland Security’s 2017 DMARC order but were directed to install it whenever possible as part of a defense policy bill passed by Congress in August.

DMARC should be installed across defense domains by the end of the year, according to Defense Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy.

About the Author

Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.

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