How do Email Headers help verify an email’s authenticity and The Future of DMARC

When someone receives an email, they see sections of the message that the majority of people are interested in. In addition to the message body, the receiver will normally see a few header fields, such as ‘From To:’, ‘Subject:’, and Date: which transmit basic information about the email message’s stated origin and topic.
These headers are only a subset of the total number of headers in the email.

The method for making hidden headers visible will differ depending on the mailbox provider. In Gmail, you can access the email header by clicking on the three dots in the upper right corner of a message and then ‘Show Original’. Other providers will have an option on a menu such as ‘Show Message Source’ or words to that effect. 

You’ll know you’ve arrived at the proper location when you notice a lot of text with lines beginning with phrases like ‘Received:’, ‘Return-Path:’ and others including the one we’re interested in, ‘Authentication-Results:’.

To establish the identity of the parties responsible for a particular communication, email authentication protocols such as SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are employed. In this header, mailbox providers will record the outcomes of the authentication checks performed on a message, and we can see that this message obtained ‘pass’ verdicts for all three.

The mailbox provider will then utilize the information in this header, as well as other information about the responsible parties, to determine where to store this message in the recipient’s inbox.

If you’re a user who’s wondering why a message wound up where it did, you might want to look at this header. It is important to note that while fail judgments may increase the likelihood of the message being placed in the user’s spam/junk folder, pass verdicts do not ensure that the message will be placed in the inbox.

These procedures reliably confirm the identities of the parties involved. If such persons are known to the mailbox provider as senders of unsolicited mail, the mailbox provider’s choice to place the message in junk is made easy. Senders attempting to standardize their authentication processes can also utilize the ‘Authentication-Results’ header, although it is not their greatest tool for doing so.

Repeated cycles of ‘send a message, check at Auth-Results header, tweak, repeat’ are a technique for the tiny sender employing one server and one IP address (albeit a tedious one). The ‘Authentication-Results’ header, on the other hand, is only a grain of sand on the beach of emails that a domain owner delivers.


DMARC aggregate reports are far better tools for them because, rather than being unduly focused on the details of email to one mailbox at one provider, domain owners can focus on the wider picture of their whole email sending program.


How Does DMARC Help?

End users can obtain DMARC aggregate reports, which compile statistics on the authentication information for every email sent from their domain. Senders can additionally request a class of processing for a failed authentication message. 

However, enforcement is an important component of DMARC, and only 13% of DMARC users are now at enforcement. Without it, recipients are not given instructions on how to handle a message that fails authentication, allowing counterfeit emails to enter the inbox. For the receiver, DMARC matches SPF and/or DKIM authentication results with what the user sees in the ‘From’ field of their email.

As DMARC use increases, domain owners can rest assured that only allowed senders are using their domain. End users, too, can be increasingly convinced that the message in their inbox is from who it says it is ‘From’ without having to dive through email headers. However, we are still far from reaching optimal protection. 

The Future of DMARCScreenshot (45)

DMARC involves complexities that are difficult and time-consuming for most businesses to execute. Furthermore, it is dependent on two additional standards, SPF and DKIM, both of which are difficult to apply and prone to mistakes.


We’ll probably witness a trend toward more direct communication regarding DMARC’s technical elements. There are already free tools available to help with the often-complicated first phase of a DMARC endeavor, which would normally need human XML report interpretation. Giving domain owners DMARC visibility without the technical effort is only the first step toward making DMARC enforcement available to everyone. 


DMARC paves the way for new security standards and specifications that will benefit all departments, from IT to marketing. Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI), a new email specification that allows brand logos to be shown within compatible email clients, is one example. To be qualified for BIMI (and the corresponding 10% boost in email engagement), a company’s DMARC policy must be in place. Hence, it is advised to adopt DMARC as soon as it is feasible for your brand.

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