Google & Yahoo Get Tough on Email Security: What K-12 Schools Need to Know About the New DMARC Policy

Google & Yahoo Get Tough on Email Security: What K-12 Schools Need to Know About the New DMARC Policy

In today’s digital age, schools rely heavily on email for communication with students, parents, and staff. But with this convenience comes a security risk: email spoofing. Phishing scams disguised as legitimate school emails can trick recipients into revealing personal information or clicking on malicious links.

To combat this growing threat, Google and Yahoo implemented a new DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) policy in February 2024. This policy significantly impacts how K-12 schools handle email authentication, potentially affecting email deliverability and security.


What is DMARC and Why Does it Matter?

DMARC is an email authentication protocol that helps verify the legitimacy of incoming emails. It works alongside two other protocols, SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail). Together, they create a layered defense against email spoofing.

  • SPF identifies authorized email servers allowed to send emails for a specific domain (e.g., your school domain).
  • DKIM adds a digital signature to emails, ensuring they haven’t been tampered with during transmission.
  • DMARC builds upon SPF and DKIM by instructing email providers on how to handle emails that fail authentication checks. There are three DMARC policy settings:
    • p=none (monitor): Monitors email authentication but doesn’t affect delivery. (This was the previous standard)
    • p=quarantine: Quarantines unauthenticated emails for review before delivery.
    • p=reject: Rejects unauthenticated emails outright.


The New DMARC Policy and its Impact on K-12 Schools

Previously, Google and Yahoo adopted a relaxed stance on DMARC enforcement. However, the new policy requires bulk senders (those sending over 5,000 emails daily) to implement a DMARC policy of p=none (monitor) at minimum by February 2024. By June 2024, enforcement will be stricter, with potential rejection of emails that fail authentication.


Here’s how this impacts K-12 schools:

  • Improved Email Security: DMARC helps prevent phishing attacks by ensuring emails claiming to be from your school actually originate from your authorized servers. This protects students, parents, and staff from falling victim to scams.
  • Enhanced Trust and Credibility: When emails consistently pass authentication checks, it builds trust with recipients. Parents and staff can be confident the emails they receive are legitimate communications from the school.
  • Potential Email Delivery Issues: Schools that haven’t implemented DMARC risk having emails flagged or even rejected by Google and Yahoo in the future. This could disrupt important communication with parents and staff.


What K-12 Schools Can Do to Prepare

The good news is that implementing DMARC is a relatively straightforward process. Here are some steps schools can take:

  1. Assess Current Email Practices: Determine who sends emails on behalf of your school (e.g., administration, teachers, student clubs).
  2. Set Up SPF and DKIM: If you haven’t already, configure SPF and DKIM records for your school domain. These records identify authorized email servers.
  3. Implement a DMARC Policy: Start with a p=none policy to monitor email authentication for a period.
  4. Monitor and Refine: Use DMARC reporting tools to analyze authentication results and identify any issues with email sending practices. You can then adjust SPF and DKIM records as needed.



The new DMARC policy by Google and Yahoo represents a positive step towards a more secure email environment. By taking proactive measures to implement DMARC, K-12 schools can safeguard their communities from phishing scams and ensure critical communications reach their intended recipients. Remember, a little effort now can go a long way in protecting your school’s digital security.