Phishing is still a vector to attack presidential campaigns. Many 2020 candidate organizations still aren’t using best practice by implementing a proper DMARC policy.
It seems they’ve not learned from the hack on Hillary’s campaign. In 2016, John Podesta got tricked by a crude phish—and it easily could happen again.
Things are better now, but there’s still acres of room for improvement. In today’s SB Blogwatch, we dig their DNS records.
Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: a decade in three minutes.
Can You Spell DMARC?
What’s the craic, Zack? Mister Whittaker reports—“Only a few 2020 US presidential candidates are using a basic email security feature”:
DMARC, an email security protocol that verifies the authenticity of a sender’s email and rejects spoofed emails … could prevent a similar attack that hobbled the Democrats during the 2016 election. … Only Elizabeth Warren … Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Michael Bloomberg, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard and Steve Bullock have … improved their email security.
The remaining candidates, including … Donald Trump, are not rejecting spoofed emails. … That, experts say, puts their campaigns at risk from foreign influence campaigns and cyberattacks.
In the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, Russian hackers sent an email to Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, posing as a Google security warning. [It] tricked Podesta into … allowing hackers to steal tens of thousands of private emails.
Or perhaps you prefer a different topical angle? G’day, David Braue—“You may be targeting Black Friday bargains, but cybercriminals are targeting you”:
Security firms are warning shoppers to be careful online as cybercriminals increase their activity in the runup to [the] retail season. … Shoppers need to be particularly wary of online scams and malware propagated through emails spoofing legitimate retailers.
Despite efforts by the Australian Signals Directorate to promote the use of next-generation DMARC email anti-fraud tools … research suggests that just 45 percent of Australia’s biggest online retailers have actually begun implementing DMARC – and just 10 percent have adopted the strictest level of security.
Returning to this hemisphere, Agari’s Armen Najarian claims, “2020 Presidential Candidates Remain Vulnerable”:
The kinds of email attacks that helped derail Hillary Clinton’s candidacy in 2016 are only getting more sophisticated. [But some] campaigns are not taking the threat as seriously as they should.
Meanwhile, we’re seeing new trends in how cybercriminals execute … advanced threats, which are liable to throw an entire candidacy off-course. After all, it only requires one campaign employee or volunteer to click on one link in a malicious email.
It’s likely only a matter of time before the unthinkable happens once again. … The Mueller Report … squarely pointed to spear phishing as the primary attack vector for Russian hackers seeking to gain access.
Unfortunately, candidates must not only be concerned about email directed to them and their campaign staff. … Imagine the damage that can be done by emails that appear to come from the legitimate domain of the candidate, but actually come from a malicious criminal who uses that domain to spread false information to potential … donors, voters, and the media.
This is entirely possible, and likely even probable, unless candidates take the steps they need to protect against it by implementing DMARC with a p=reject policy.
DMARC: HOWTO? Chad Calease obliges—“A Definitive Guide”:
This is the time of year we’re all too aware how much phishing really sucks. … While technology isn’t able to catch all of it 100% of the time, DMARC is one of these important layers of defense that helps to dramatically minimize the amount of phishing emails that get through to our inboxes.
DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance. [It] is a set of 3 DNS records that work together to ensure email is sent only from authorized … mail servers, thereby helping block fraudulent messages.
DMARC sets a clear policy for what to do if a message hasn’t been sent from an authorized source. … DMARC helps prevent criminals from spoofing the “header from” or “reply-to” address: … First it checks that the DKIM … digital signature is a match. Then it checks the SPF record to ensure the message came from an authorized server. If both DKIM and SPF pass these checks, DMARC delivers the message.
But if one or more of these tests fails, DMARC behaves according to a policy we set:
‘none’ [which] doesn’t impose any actions …
‘quarantine’ [which] Flags messages … to be directed to the recipients’ spam or junk folders …
‘reject’ [which] outright refuses messages that fail … (this is the end goal of a good DMARC configuration).
OK, so why aren’t all the candidates on board? Here’s lostphilosopher:
I see this as a reflection of the candidates ability to find and listen to experts. I don’t expect a candidate to understand how to do tech “right” – I’m in the industry and still get half of it wrong! However, when you’re running a multi million dollar campaign you can afford to bring in experts to set this stuff up and audit your practices.
I assume these candidates are already doing this and that if they are still not following some basic best practices it’s because they are actively ignoring the experts. … That’s what worries me: If they can’t find or listen to these people now, what makes me think they’ll be able to in office?
And this Anonymous commentator agrees:
Think about this for a second! If the … candidates don’t care enough about their own email traffic, why would anyone vote for them to secure this nation? If your own private info is easily up for grabs, what do you honestly think national security would be like under any of them?
But gl4ss spots an oint in the flyment:
If you rely on DMARC … and just trust it blindly then you know what? You’re gonna get ****ed by someone on whthouse.org.co.uk.acva.com.
Sure the email is sent from that domain, but so what? The domain isn’t right.
It was ever thus. Ryan Dunbar—@ryandunbar2—looks back:
In 1980 we knew internet email was not secure.
2003 get email SPF
2007 get email DKIM
2012 get DMARC
2019 get ARC, BIMI
2025 get QUIC, yet email will still not be secure.
2050 get internet3
Why does it look like the ones running the internet don’t want a secure internet?
Meanwhile, El Duderino knows who to blame:
This is Al Gore’s fault because he invented the internet.
10 Years; 100 songs; 3 minutes
Previously in And Finally
You have been reading SB Blogwatch by Richi Jennings. Richi curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites… so you don’t have to. Hate mail may be directed to @RiCHi or firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.
Image source: Tia Dufour (public domain)