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RFC 7489

Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC)

Pages: 73
Updated by:  85538616
Part 2 of 4 – Pages 12 to 28
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Top   ToC   RFC7489 - Page 12   prevText

4. Overview

This section provides a general overview of the design and operation of the DMARC environment.

4.1. Authentication Mechanisms

The following mechanisms for determining Authenticated Identifiers are supported in this version of DMARC: o [DKIM], which provides a domain-level identifier in the content of the "d=" tag of a validated DKIM-Signature header field. o [SPF], which can authenticate both the domain found in an [SMTP] HELO/EHLO command (the HELO identity) and the domain found in an SMTP MAIL command (the MAIL FROM identity). DMARC uses the result of SPF authentication of the MAIL FROM identity. Section 2.4 of [SPF] describes MAIL FROM processing for cases in which the MAIL command has a null path.

4.2. Key Concepts

DMARC policies are published by the Domain Owner, and retrieved by the Mail Receiver during the SMTP session, via the DNS. DMARC's filtering function is based on whether the RFC5322.From field domain is aligned with (matches) an authenticated domain name from SPF or DKIM. When a DMARC policy is published for the domain name found in the RFC5322.From field, and that domain name is not validated through SPF or DKIM, the disposition of that message can be affected by that DMARC policy when delivered to a participating receiver. It is important to note that the authentication mechanisms employed by DMARC authenticate only a DNS domain and do not authenticate the local-part of any email address identifier found in a message, nor do they validate the legitimacy of message content. DMARC's feedback component involves the collection of information about received messages claiming to be from the Organizational Domain for periodic aggregate reports to the Domain Owner. The parameters and format for such reports are discussed in later sections of this document. A DMARC-enabled Mail Receiver might also generate per-message reports that contain information related to individual messages that fail SPF and/or DKIM. Per-message failure reports are a useful source of information when debugging deployments (if messages can be determined
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   to be legitimate even though failing authentication) or in analyzing
   attacks.  The capability for such services is enabled by DMARC but
   defined in other referenced material such as [AFRF].

   A message satisfies the DMARC checks if at least one of the supported
   authentication mechanisms:

   1.  produces a "pass" result, and

   2.  produces that result based on an identifier that is in alignment,
       as defined in Section 3.

4.3. Flow Diagram

+---------------+ | Author Domain |< . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +---------------+ . . . | . . . V V V . +-----------+ +--------+ +----------+ +----------+ . | MSA |<***>| DKIM | | DKIM | | SPF | . | Service | | Signer | | Verifier | | Verifier | . +-----------+ +--------+ +----------+ +----------+ . | ^ ^ . | ************** . V * . +------+ (~~~~~~~~~~~~) +------+ * . | sMTA |------->( other MTAs )----->| rMTA | * . +------+ (~~~~~~~~~~~~) +------+ * . | * ........ | * . V * . +-----------+ V V +---------+ | MDA | +----------+ | User |<--| Filtering |<***>| DMARC | | Mailbox | | Engine | | Verifier | +---------+ +-----------+ +----------+ MSA = Mail Submission Agent MDA = Mail Delivery Agent The above diagram shows a simple flow of messages through a DMARC- aware system. Solid lines denote the actual message flow, dotted lines involve DNS queries used to retrieve message policy related to the supported message authentication schemes, and asterisk lines indicate data exchange between message-handling modules and message authentication modules. "sMTA" is the sending MTA, and "rMTA" is the receiving MTA.
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   In essence, the steps are as follows:

   1.   Domain Owner constructs an SPF policy and publishes it in its
        DNS database as per [SPF].  Domain Owner also configures its
        system for DKIM signing as described in [DKIM].  Finally, Domain
        Owner publishes via the DNS a DMARC message-handling policy.

   2.   Author generates a message and hands the message to Domain
        Owner's designated mail submission service.

   3.   Submission service passes relevant details to the DKIM signing
        module in order to generate a DKIM signature to be applied to
        the message.

   4.   Submission service relays the now-signed message to its
        designated transport service for routing to its intended

   5.   Message may pass through other relays but eventually arrives at
        a recipient's transport service.

   6.   Recipient delivery service conducts SPF and DKIM authentication
        checks by passing the necessary data to their respective
        modules, each of which requires queries to the Author Domain's
        DNS data (when identifiers are aligned; see below).

   7.   The results of these are passed to the DMARC module along with
        the Author's domain.  The DMARC module attempts to retrieve a
        policy from the DNS for that domain.  If none is found, the
        DMARC module determines the Organizational Domain and repeats
        the attempt to retrieve a policy from the DNS.  (This is
        described in further detail in Section 6.6.3.)

   8.   If a policy is found, it is combined with the Author's domain
        and the SPF and DKIM results to produce a DMARC policy result (a
        "pass" or "fail") and can optionally cause one of two kinds of
        reports to be generated (not shown).

   9.   Recipient transport service either delivers the message to the
        recipient inbox or takes other local policy action based on the
        DMARC result (not shown).

   10.  When requested, Recipient transport service collects data from
        the message delivery session to be used in providing feedback
        (see Section 7).
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5. Use of RFC5322.From

One of the most obvious points of security scrutiny for DMARC is the choice to focus on an identifier, namely the RFC5322.From address, which is part of a body of data that has been trivially forged throughout the history of email. Several points suggest that it is the most correct and safest thing to do in this context: o Of all the identifiers that are part of the message itself, this is the only one guaranteed to be present. o It seems the best choice of an identifier on which to focus, as most MUAs display some or all of the contents of that field in a manner strongly suggesting those data as reflective of the true originator of the message. The absence of a single, properly formed RFC5322.From field renders the message invalid. Handling of such a message is outside of the scope of this specification. Since the sorts of mail typically protected by DMARC participants tend to only have single Authors, DMARC participants generally operate under a slightly restricted profile of RFC5322 with respect to the expected syntax of this field. See Section 6.6 for details.

6. Policy

DMARC policies are published by Domain Owners and applied by Mail Receivers. A Domain Owner advertises DMARC participation of one or more of its domains by adding a DNS TXT record (described in Section 6.1) to those domains. In doing so, Domain Owners make specific requests of Mail Receivers regarding the disposition of messages purporting to be from one of the Domain Owner's domains and the provision of feedback about those messages. A Domain Owner may choose not to participate in DMARC evaluation by Mail Receivers. In this case, the Domain Owner simply declines to advertise participation in those schemes. For example, if the results of path authorization checks ought not be considered as part of the overall DMARC result for a given Author Domain, then the Domain Owner does not publish an SPF policy record that can produce an SPF pass result.
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   A Mail Receiver implementing the DMARC mechanism SHOULD make a
   best-effort attempt to adhere to the Domain Owner's published DMARC
   policy when a message fails the DMARC test.  Since email streams can
   be complicated (due to forwarding, existing RFC5322.From
   domain-spoofing services, etc.), Mail Receivers MAY deviate from a
   Domain Owner's published policy during message processing and SHOULD
   make available the fact of and reason for the deviation to the Domain
   Owner via feedback reporting, specifically using the "PolicyOverride"
   feature of the aggregate report (see Section 7.2).

6.1. DMARC Policy Record

Domain Owner DMARC preferences are stored as DNS TXT records in subdomains named "_dmarc". For example, the Domain Owner of "" would post DMARC preferences in a TXT record at "". Similarly, a Mail Receiver wishing to query for DMARC preferences regarding mail with an RFC5322.From domain of "" would issue a TXT query to the DNS for the subdomain of "". The DNS-located DMARC preference data will hereafter be called the "DMARC record". DMARC's use of the Domain Name Service is driven by DMARC's use of domain names and the nature of the query it performs. The query requirement matches with the DNS, for obtaining simple parametric information. It uses an established method of storing the information, associated with the target domain name, namely an isolated TXT record that is restricted to the DMARC context. Use of the DNS as the query service has the benefit of reusing an extremely well-established operations, administration, and management infrastructure, rather than creating a new one. Per [DNS], a TXT record can comprise several "character-string" objects. Where this is the case, the module performing DMARC evaluation MUST concatenate these strings by joining together the objects in order and parsing the result as a single string.


[URI] defines a generic syntax for identifying a resource. The DMARC mechanism uses this as the format by which a Domain Owner specifies the destination for the two report types that are supported. The place such URIs are specified (see Section 6.3) allows a list of these to be provided. A report is normally sent to each listed URI in the order provided by the Domain Owner. Receivers MAY impose a limit on the number of URIs to which they will send reports but MUST support the ability to send to at least two. The list of URIs is separated by commas (ASCII 0x2C).
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   Each URI can have associated with it a maximum report size that may
   be sent to it.  This is accomplished by appending an exclamation
   point (ASCII 0x21), followed by a maximum-size indication, before a
   separating comma or terminating semicolon.

   Thus, a DMARC URI is a URI within which any commas or exclamation
   points are percent-encoded per [URI], followed by an OPTIONAL
   exclamation point and a maximum-size specification, and, if there are
   additional reporting URIs in the list, a comma and the next URI.

   For example, the URI "!50m" would request
   that a report be sent via email to "" so long as
   the report payload does not exceed 50 megabytes.

   A formal definition is provided in Section 6.4.

6.3. General Record Format

DMARC records follow the extensible "tag-value" syntax for DNS-based key records defined in DKIM [DKIM]. Section 11 creates a registry for known DMARC tags and registers the initial set defined in this document. Only tags defined in this document or in later extensions, and thus added to that registry, are to be processed; unknown tags MUST be ignored. The following tags are introduced as the initial valid DMARC tags: adkim: (plain-text; OPTIONAL; default is "r".) Indicates whether strict or relaxed DKIM Identifier Alignment mode is required by the Domain Owner. See Section 3.1.1 for details. Valid values are as follows: r: relaxed mode s: strict mode aspf: (plain-text; OPTIONAL; default is "r".) Indicates whether strict or relaxed SPF Identifier Alignment mode is required by the Domain Owner. See Section 3.1.2 for details. Valid values are as follows: r: relaxed mode s: strict mode
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   fo:  Failure reporting options (plain-text; OPTIONAL; default is "0")
      Provides requested options for generation of failure reports.
      Report generators MAY choose to adhere to the requested options.
      This tag's content MUST be ignored if a "ruf" tag (below) is not
      also specified.  The value of this tag is a colon-separated list
      of characters that indicate failure reporting options as follows:

      0: Generate a DMARC failure report if all underlying
         authentication mechanisms fail to produce an aligned "pass"

      1: Generate a DMARC failure report if any underlying
         authentication mechanism produced something other than an
         aligned "pass" result.

      d: Generate a DKIM failure report if the message had a signature
         that failed evaluation, regardless of its alignment.  DKIM-
         specific reporting is described in [AFRF-DKIM].

      s: Generate an SPF failure report if the message failed SPF
         evaluation, regardless of its alignment.  SPF-specific
         reporting is described in [AFRF-SPF].

   p: Requested Mail Receiver policy (plain-text; REQUIRED for policy
      records).  Indicates the policy to be enacted by the Receiver at
      the request of the Domain Owner.  Policy applies to the domain
      queried and to subdomains, unless subdomain policy is explicitly
      described using the "sp" tag.  This tag is mandatory for policy
      records only, but not for third-party reporting records (see
      Section 7.1).  Possible values are as follows:

      none:  The Domain Owner requests no specific action be taken
         regarding delivery of messages.

      quarantine:  The Domain Owner wishes to have email that fails the
         DMARC mechanism check be treated by Mail Receivers as
         suspicious.  Depending on the capabilities of the Mail
         Receiver, this can mean "place into spam folder", "scrutinize
         with additional intensity", and/or "flag as suspicious".

      reject:  The Domain Owner wishes for Mail Receivers to reject
         email that fails the DMARC mechanism check.  Rejection SHOULD
         occur during the SMTP transaction.  See Section 10.3 for some
         discussion of SMTP rejection methods and their implications.

   pct:  (plain-text integer between 0 and 100, inclusive; OPTIONAL;
      default is 100).  Percentage of messages from the Domain Owner's
      mail stream to which the DMARC policy is to be applied.  However,
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      this MUST NOT be applied to the DMARC-generated reports, all of
      which must be sent and received unhindered.  The purpose of the
      "pct" tag is to allow Domain Owners to enact a slow rollout
      enforcement of the DMARC mechanism.  The prospect of "all or
      nothing" is recognized as preventing many organizations from
      experimenting with strong authentication-based mechanisms.  See
      Section 6.6.4 for details.  Note that random selection based on
      this percentage, such as the following pseudocode, is adequate:

       if (random mod 100) < pct then
         selected = true
         selected = false

   rf:  Format to be used for message-specific failure reports (colon-
      separated plain-text list of values; OPTIONAL; default is "afrf").
      The value of this tag is a list of one or more report formats as
      requested by the Domain Owner to be used when a message fails both
      [SPF] and [DKIM] tests to report details of the individual
      failure.  The values MUST be present in the registry of reporting
      formats defined in Section 11; a Mail Receiver observing a
      different value SHOULD ignore it or MAY ignore the entire DMARC
      record.  For this version, only "afrf" (the auth-failure report
      type defined in [AFRF]) is presently supported.  See Section 7.3
      for details.  For interoperability, the Authentication Failure
      Reporting Format (AFRF) MUST be supported.

   ri:  Interval requested between aggregate reports (plain-text 32-bit
      unsigned integer; OPTIONAL; default is 86400).  Indicates a
      request to Receivers to generate aggregate reports separated by no
      more than the requested number of seconds.  DMARC implementations
      MUST be able to provide daily reports and SHOULD be able to
      provide hourly reports when requested.  However, anything other
      than a daily report is understood to be accommodated on a best-
      effort basis.

   rua:  Addresses to which aggregate feedback is to be sent (comma-
      separated plain-text list of DMARC URIs; OPTIONAL).  A comma or
      exclamation point that is part of such a DMARC URI MUST be encoded
      per Section 2.1 of [URI] so as to distinguish it from the list
      delimiter or an OPTIONAL size limit.  Section 7.1 discusses
      considerations that apply when the domain name of a URI differs
      from that of the domain advertising the policy.  See Section 12.5
      for additional considerations.  Any valid URI can be specified.  A
      Mail Receiver MUST implement support for a "mailto:" URI, i.e.,
      the ability to send a DMARC report via electronic mail.  If not
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      provided, Mail Receivers MUST NOT generate aggregate feedback
      reports.  URIs not supported by Mail Receivers MUST be ignored.
      The aggregate feedback report format is described in Section 7.2.

   ruf:  Addresses to which message-specific failure information is to
      be reported (comma-separated plain-text list of DMARC URIs;
      OPTIONAL).  If present, the Domain Owner is requesting Mail
      Receivers to send detailed failure reports about messages that
      fail the DMARC evaluation in specific ways (see the "fo" tag
      above).  The format of the message to be generated MUST follow the
      format specified for the "rf" tag.  Section 7.1 discusses
      considerations that apply when the domain name of a URI differs
      from that of the domain advertising the policy.  A Mail Receiver
      MUST implement support for a "mailto:" URI, i.e., the ability to
      send a DMARC report via electronic mail.  If not provided, Mail
      Receivers MUST NOT generate failure reports.  See Section 12.5 for
      additional considerations.

   sp:  Requested Mail Receiver policy for all subdomains (plain-text;
      OPTIONAL).  Indicates the policy to be enacted by the Receiver at
      the request of the Domain Owner.  It applies only to subdomains of
      the domain queried and not to the domain itself.  Its syntax is
      identical to that of the "p" tag defined above.  If absent, the
      policy specified by the "p" tag MUST be applied for subdomains.
      Note that "sp" will be ignored for DMARC records published on
      subdomains of Organizational Domains due to the effect of the
      DMARC policy discovery mechanism described in Section 6.6.3.

   v: Version (plain-text; REQUIRED).  Identifies the record retrieved
      as a DMARC record.  It MUST have the value of "DMARC1".  The value
      of this tag MUST match precisely; if it does not or it is absent,
      the entire retrieved record MUST be ignored.  It MUST be the first
      tag in the list.

   A DMARC policy record MUST comply with the formal specification found
   in Section 6.4 in that the "v" and "p" tags MUST be present and MUST
   appear in that order.  Unknown tags MUST be ignored.  Syntax errors
   in the remainder of the record SHOULD be discarded in favor of
   default values (if any) or ignored outright.

   Note that given the rules of the previous paragraph, addition of a
   new tag into the registered list of tags does not itself require a
   new version of DMARC to be generated (with a corresponding change to
   the "v" tag's value), but a change to any existing tags does require
   a new version of DMARC.
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6.4. Formal Definition

The formal definition of the DMARC format, using [ABNF], is as follows: dmarc-uri = URI [ "!" 1*DIGIT [ "k" / "m" / "g" / "t" ] ] ; "URI" is imported from [URI]; commas (ASCII ; 0x2C) and exclamation points (ASCII 0x21) ; MUST be encoded; the numeric portion MUST fit ; within an unsigned 64-bit integer dmarc-record = dmarc-version dmarc-sep [dmarc-request] [dmarc-sep dmarc-srequest] [dmarc-sep dmarc-auri] [dmarc-sep dmarc-furi] [dmarc-sep dmarc-adkim] [dmarc-sep dmarc-aspf] [dmarc-sep dmarc-ainterval] [dmarc-sep dmarc-fo] [dmarc-sep dmarc-rfmt] [dmarc-sep dmarc-percent] [dmarc-sep] ; components other than dmarc-version and ; dmarc-request may appear in any order dmarc-version = "v" *WSP "=" *WSP %x44 %x4d %x41 %x52 %x43 %x31 dmarc-sep = *WSP %x3b *WSP dmarc-request = "p" *WSP "=" *WSP ( "none" / "quarantine" / "reject" ) dmarc-srequest = "sp" *WSP "=" *WSP ( "none" / "quarantine" / "reject" ) dmarc-auri = "rua" *WSP "=" *WSP dmarc-uri *(*WSP "," *WSP dmarc-uri) dmarc-furi = "ruf" *WSP "=" *WSP dmarc-uri *(*WSP "," *WSP dmarc-uri) dmarc-adkim = "adkim" *WSP "=" *WSP ( "r" / "s" ) dmarc-aspf = "aspf" *WSP "=" *WSP ( "r" / "s" )
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     dmarc-ainterval = "ri" *WSP "=" *WSP 1*DIGIT

     dmarc-fo        = "fo" *WSP "=" *WSP
                       ( "0" / "1" / "d" / "s" )
                       *(*WSP ":" *WSP ( "0" / "1" / "d" / "s" ))

     dmarc-rfmt      = "rf"  *WSP "=" *WSP Keyword *(*WSP ":" Keyword)
                       ; registered reporting formats only

     dmarc-percent   = "pct" *WSP "=" *WSP

   "Keyword" is imported from Section 4.1.2 of [SMTP].

   A size limitation in a dmarc-uri, if provided, is interpreted as a
   count of units followed by an OPTIONAL unit size ("k" for kilobytes,
   "m" for megabytes, "g" for gigabytes, "t" for terabytes).  Without a
   unit, the number is presumed to be a basic byte count.  Note that the
   units are considered to be powers of two; a kilobyte is 2^10, a
   megabyte is 2^20, etc.

6.5. Domain Owner Actions

To implement the DMARC mechanism, the only action required of a Domain Owner is the creation of the DMARC policy record in the DNS. However, in order to make meaningful use of DMARC, a Domain Owner must at minimum either establish an address to receive reports, or deploy authentication technologies and ensure Identifier Alignment. Most Domain Owners will want to do both. DMARC reports will be of significant size, and the addresses that receive them are publicly visible, so we encourage Domain Owners to set up dedicated email addresses to receive and process reports, and to deploy abuse countermeasures on those email addresses as appropriate. Authentication technologies are discussed in [DKIM] (see also [DKIM-OVERVIEW] and [DKIM-DEPLOYMENT]) and [SPF].
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6.6. Mail Receiver Actions

This section describes receiver actions in the DMARC environment.

6.6.1. Extract Author Domain

The domain in the RFC5322.From field is extracted as the domain to be evaluated by DMARC. If the domain is encoded with UTF-8, the domain name must be converted to an A-label, as described in Section 2.3 of [IDNA], for further processing. In order to be processed by DMARC, a message typically needs to contain exactly one RFC5322.From domain (a single From: field with a single domain in it). Not all messages meet this requirement, and handling of them is outside of the scope of this document. Typical exceptions, and the way they have been historically handled by DMARC participants, are as follows: o Messages with multiple RFC5322.From fields are typically rejected, since that form is forbidden under RFC 5322 [MAIL]; o Messages bearing a single RFC5322.From field containing multiple addresses (and, thus, multiple domain names to be evaluated) are typically rejected because the sorts of mail normally protected by DMARC do not use this format; o Messages that have no RFC5322.From field at all are typically rejected, since that form is forbidden under RFC 5322 [MAIL]; o Messages with an RFC5322.From field that contains no meaningful domains, such as RFC 5322 [MAIL]'s "group" syntax, are typically ignored. The case of a syntactically valid multi-valued RFC5322.From field presents a particular challenge. The process in this case is to apply the DMARC check using each of those domains found in the RFC5322.From field as the Author Domain and apply the most strict policy selected among the checks that fail.
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6.6.2. Determine Handling Policy

To arrive at a policy for an individual message, Mail Receivers MUST perform the following actions or their semantic equivalents. Steps 2-4 MAY be done in parallel, whereas steps 5 and 6 require input from previous steps. The steps are as follows: 1. Extract the RFC5322.From domain from the message (as above). 2. Query the DNS for a DMARC policy record. Continue if one is found, or terminate DMARC evaluation otherwise. See Section 6.6.3 for details. 3. Perform DKIM signature verification checks. A single email could contain multiple DKIM signatures. The results of this step are passed to the remainder of the algorithm and MUST include the value of the "d=" tag from each checked DKIM signature. 4. Perform SPF validation checks. The results of this step are passed to the remainder of the algorithm and MUST include the domain name used to complete the SPF check. 5. Conduct Identifier Alignment checks. With authentication checks and policy discovery performed, the Mail Receiver checks to see if Authenticated Identifiers fall into alignment as described in Section 3. If one or more of the Authenticated Identifiers align with the RFC5322.From domain, the message is considered to pass the DMARC mechanism check. All other conditions (authentication failures, identifier mismatches) are considered to be DMARC mechanism check failures. 6. Apply policy. Emails that fail the DMARC mechanism check are disposed of in accordance with the discovered DMARC policy of the Domain Owner. See Section 6.3 for details. Heuristics applied in the absence of use by a Domain Owner of either SPF or DKIM (e.g., [Best-Guess-SPF]) SHOULD NOT be used, as it may be the case that the Domain Owner wishes a Message Receiver not to consider the results of that underlying authentication protocol at all. DMARC evaluation can only yield a "pass" result after one of the underlying authentication mechanisms passes for an aligned identifier. If neither passes and one or both of them fail due to a temporary error, the Receiver evaluating the message is unable to conclude that the DMARC mechanism had a permanent failure; they
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   therefore cannot apply the advertised DMARC policy.  When otherwise
   appropriate, Receivers MAY send feedback reports regarding temporary

   Handling of messages for which SPF and/or DKIM evaluation encounter a
   permanent DNS error is left to the discretion of the Mail Receiver.

6.6.3. Policy Discovery

As stated above, the DMARC mechanism uses DNS TXT records to advertise policy. Policy discovery is accomplished via a method similar to the method used for SPF records. This method, and the important differences between DMARC and SPF mechanisms, are discussed below. To balance the conflicting requirements of supporting wildcarding, allowing subdomain policy overrides, and limiting DNS query load, the following DNS lookup scheme is employed: 1. Mail Receivers MUST query the DNS for a DMARC TXT record at the DNS domain matching the one found in the RFC5322.From domain in the message. A possibly empty set of records is returned. 2. Records that do not start with a "v=" tag that identifies the current version of DMARC are discarded. 3. If the set is now empty, the Mail Receiver MUST query the DNS for a DMARC TXT record at the DNS domain matching the Organizational Domain in place of the RFC5322.From domain in the message (if different). This record can contain policy to be asserted for subdomains of the Organizational Domain. A possibly empty set of records is returned. 4. Records that do not start with a "v=" tag that identifies the current version of DMARC are discarded. 5. If the remaining set contains multiple records or no records, policy discovery terminates and DMARC processing is not applied to this message.
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   6.  If a retrieved policy record does not contain a valid "p" tag, or
       contains an "sp" tag that is not valid, then:

       1.  if a "rua" tag is present and contains at least one
           syntactically valid reporting URI, the Mail Receiver SHOULD
           act as if a record containing a valid "v" tag and "p=none"
           was retrieved, and continue processing;

       2.  otherwise, the Mail Receiver applies no DMARC processing to
           this message.

   If the set produced by the mechanism above contains no DMARC policy
   record (i.e., any indication that there is no such record as opposed
   to a transient DNS error), Mail Receivers SHOULD NOT apply the DMARC
   mechanism to the message.

   Handling of DNS errors when querying for the DMARC policy record is
   left to the discretion of the Mail Receiver.  For example, to ensure
   minimal disruption of mail flow, transient errors could result in
   delivery of the message ("fail open"), or they could result in the
   message being temporarily rejected (i.e., an SMTP 4yx reply), which
   invites the sending MTA to try again after the condition has possibly
   cleared, allowing a definite DMARC conclusion to be reached ("fail

6.6.4. Message Sampling

If the "pct" tag is present in the policy record, the Mail Receiver MUST NOT enact the requested policy ("p" tag or "sp" tag") on more than the stated percent of the totality of affected messages. However, regardless of whether or not the "pct" tag is present, the Mail Receiver MUST include all relevant message data in any reports produced. If email is subject to the DMARC policy of "quarantine", the Mail Receiver SHOULD quarantine the message. If the email is not subject to the "quarantine" policy (due to the "pct" tag), the Mail Receiver SHOULD apply local message classification as normal. If email is subject to the DMARC policy of "reject", the Mail Receiver SHOULD reject the message (see Section 10.3). If the email is not subject to the "reject" policy (due to the "pct" tag), the Mail Receiver SHOULD treat the email as though the "quarantine" policy applies. This behavior allows Domain Owners to experiment with progressively stronger policies without relaxing existing policy.
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   Mail Receivers implement "pct" via statistical mechanisms that
   achieve a close approximation to the requested percentage and provide
   a representative sample across a reporting period.

6.6.5. Store Results of DMARC Processing

The results of Mail Receiver-based DMARC processing should be stored for eventual presentation back to the Domain Owner in the form of aggregate feedback reports. Sections 6.3 and 7.2 discuss aggregate feedback.

6.7. Policy Enforcement Considerations

Mail Receivers MAY choose to reject or quarantine email even if email passes the DMARC mechanism check. The DMARC mechanism does not inform Mail Receivers whether an email stream is "good". Mail Receivers are encouraged to maintain anti-abuse technologies to combat the possibility of DMARC-enabled criminal campaigns. Mail Receivers MAY choose to accept email that fails the DMARC mechanism check even if the Domain Owner has published a "reject" policy. Mail Receivers need to make a best effort not to increase the likelihood of accepting abusive mail if they choose not to comply with a Domain Owner's reject, against policy. At a minimum, addition of the Authentication-Results header field (see [AUTH-RESULTS]) is RECOMMENDED when delivery of failing mail is done. When this is done, the DNS domain name thus recorded MUST be encoded as an A-label. Mail Receivers are only obligated to report reject or quarantine policy actions in aggregate feedback reports that are due to DMARC policy. They are not required to report reject or quarantine actions that are the result of local policy. If local policy information is exposed, abusers can gain insight into the effectiveness and delivery rates of spam campaigns. Final disposition of a message is always a matter of local policy. An operator that wishes to favor DMARC policy over SPF policy, for example, will disregard the SPF policy, since enacting an SPF-determined rejection prevents evaluation of DKIM; DKIM might otherwise pass, satisfying the DMARC evaluation. There is a trade-off to doing so, namely acceptance and processing of the entire message body in exchange for the enhanced protection DMARC provides. DMARC-compliant Mail Receivers typically disregard any mail-handling directive discovered as part of an authentication mechanism (e.g., Author Domain Signing Practices (ADSP), SPF) where a DMARC record is also discovered that specifies a policy other than "none". Deviating
Top   ToC   RFC7489 - Page 28
   from this practice introduces inconsistency among DMARC operators in
   terms of handling of the message.  However, such deviation is not

   To enable Domain Owners to receive DMARC feedback without impacting
   existing mail processing, discovered policies of "p=none" SHOULD NOT
   modify existing mail disposition processing.

   Mail Receivers SHOULD also implement reporting instructions of DMARC,
   even in the absence of a request for DKIM reporting [AFRF-DKIM] or
   SPF reporting [AFRF-SPF].  Furthermore, the presence of such requests
   SHOULD NOT affect DMARC reporting.

(page 28 continued on part 3)

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