1

Despite setting up strict DMARC, SPF, and having DKIM enabled, I am still easily able to spoof the "From" address. I can easily do this with PHPMailer on my Mac and even with some free 3rd party tools like

How is it still possible to spoof my emails?

See example of an email landing in our inbox with a forged "From" address. The email appears to be coming from "[email protected]" and has landed in the inbox (not spam folder) of "[email protected]":

enter image description here

Original email details:

Delivered-To: [email protected]
Received: by 2002:a05:6358:1401:b0:123:19d7:631b with SMTP id m1csp7247732rwi;
        Mon, 26 Jun 2023 04:21:06 -0700 (PDT)
X-Received: by 2002:a5e:8d04:0:b0:783:5fd9:3789 with SMTP id m4-20020a5e8d04000000b007835fd93789mr1605706ioj.1.1687778466017;
        Mon, 26 Jun 2023 04:21:06 -0700 (PDT)
ARC-Seal: i=2; a=rsa-sha256; t=1687778466; cv=pass;
        d=google.com; s=arc-20160816;
        b=dkKEQKNBeuOeShGW/Gzg2H8RxokMu3Oj9prik0GiTeuREoMuIG1Hi3DroWS7MtT3M5
         5NXZiebrwox3aVwaa8Wol4XwgrtGzjkXLuIguwIL5zOQsJmW/NOMeVVUwPD6DZqzgdoU
         3ey7G6hfdPSa7S16zezQqr5FSIq8V4Y2n7/XRHHzvzRMF/rSQE3gmk8PXz7NaBxYcneL
         AW41PEFv6f5jflmqShCo7rhj6zX3n3vc7827cRUWeHB9clMLmTbCR5x2K1aEWuoBWvkG
         2ykJD35pwDoPJbJ8LOfwq3gXIAXCqsVH54/tY4+Ey4sauc+ddKfnHNf4fVdvR90VOqke
         dOnQ==
ARC-Message-Signature: i=2; a=rsa-sha256; c=relaxed/relaxed; d=google.com; s=arc-20160816;
        h=content-transfer-encoding:subject:date:to:from:mime-version
         :message-id;
        bh=q12lAW4zen/O2oFMIIsId6/crvAvWVGZdSDT+YZFFrg=;
        fh=YVtwwdP2abWeUtV0ZJb090cqLD57D94m70R4Wxm11Qk=;
        b=Yeb2Xm6ZqrVSru4VWQROJgLQfmxPc3fUxWAj9UdfeZ1Fjet9K+57U1LRxIOA865MIm
         Wz/iqSxfc6joRBp/zMnpdlwoWu7aCqyg7k0na8gBxTekTn/+zVhZMRt1C8xcSwlXtRXK
         T988UrKhCsraavSVYLSz9+xRaRQaPkTF9BCbk4wY3zW5TxRou9WY4cgjldDqYQNEE2W7
         drTAISjQqI1tFWlczSNuBfMQF8iFkiS8rFiGFgWKKQXYp2JsIQIduqehLWSFVfk1w6kc
         237rNZe5si9vWIn4I9rJL6h0CwLHtSEEiu7BHNvuatrC69pxuKJ4bErGuA+ZkYRvQfHJ
         MhIA==
ARC-Authentication-Results: i=2; mx.google.com;
       arc=pass (i=1);
       spf=pass (google.com: domain of [email protected] designates 209.85.220.41 as permitted sender) [email protected];
       dmarc=pass (p=REJECT sp=REJECT dis=NONE) header.from=mydomain.com
Return-Path: <[email protected]>
Received: from mail-sor-f41.google.com (mail-sor-f41.google.com. [209.85.220.41])
        by mx.google.com with SMTPS id y13-20020a02a38d000000b0041654f00a16sor1382978jak.3.2023.06.26.04.21.05
        for <[email protected]>
        (Google Transport Security);
        Mon, 26 Jun 2023 04:21:05 -0700 (PDT)
Received-SPF: pass (google.com: domain of [email protected] designates 209.85.220.41 as permitted sender) client-ip=209.85.220.41;
Authentication-Results: mx.google.com;
       arc=pass (i=1);
       spf=pass (google.com: domain of [email protected] designates 209.85.220.41 as permitted sender) [email protected];
       dmarc=pass (p=REJECT sp=REJECT dis=NONE) header.from=mydomain.com
X-Google-DKIM-Signature: v=1; a=rsa-sha256; c=relaxed/relaxed;
        d=1e100.net; s=20221208; t=1687778465; x=1690370465;
        h=x-forwarded-for:content-transfer-encoding:subject:date:to:from
         :mime-version:message-id:x-gm-message-state
         :x-original-authentication-results:from:to:cc:subject:date
         :message-id:reply-to;
        bh=q12lAW4zen/O2oFMIIsId6/crvAvWVGZdSDT+YZFFrg=;
        b=czotmx/eULBOo4ZOluBAv/UqasS+2kegRB4YSDmVsl4kQbXcBjLrH5eqPCXGtuEg0l
         PijpmUyecN+k2hpLR9ErbxW/jQS3JsAnqSuUP/0kK3OSjwcn8mf0SIXdbqxIpA1vFNoA
         NdbLOB8QIRchiV1Ilr8DlV5Jr2yDn8mB/29MTV7qaJWtXq7QykZ6vlrHNnY4BB0QV5uU
         n5kL1AOuETXfjl7M3Qd7LO64U8LjwBb8lRu3sgsq3qtF9deIhvWDqs+9HHdSjrZkZYTH
         /+jq65z0pBy0w/Ul9Q8ACcAmozEA8g0c9ewQaBCKWV66zSKVOkL8eYtEkTo4gwjrWBSv
         wUAQ==
X-Original-Authentication-Results: gmr-mx.google.com;
       spf=fail (google.com: domain of [email protected] does not designate 72.167.234.240 as permitted sender) [email protected];
       dmarc=fail (p=REJECT sp=REJECT dis=REJECT) header.from=mydomain.com
X-Gm-Message-State: AC+VfDx7CQliWuXyOvzkIZJEuhxw79r0Jd+cF9dUGSQPkxfYeS7OnCWI ljestKVqfF22M4oHMOfrGr3cKDe4cDvG0h2mWg==
X-Google-Smtp-Source: ACHHUZ6qCQvW28V/c5D/CMqMvSoYOCV6EYDLZtclFAGTb90QywtA3+z0kdTcAwf0X5mDBCvN9SQwWsITJ3HiBlpH4+FRrPugUEA=
X-Received: by 2002:a92:c050:0:b0:342:299c:a2c0 with SMTP id o16-20020a92c050000000b00342299ca2c0mr12645779ilf.26.1687778465918;
        Mon, 26 Jun 2023 04:21:05 -0700 (PDT)
ARC-Seal: i=1; a=rsa-sha256; t=1687778465; cv=none;
        d=google.com; s=arc-20160816;
        b=Vj56lMq4MFwkMHzPX59fC7PCjGQEM/S4PKIJT3ftzEhuPnLxNU8b9dqnogUzkqT1tu
         6cGHb0aEtuKkLc2eBVU8be04xsOsbL/XLDsH4A/hlIP0KayfACSBNTpaSR/5wKIpAJUx
         GtiI+ATbOTrL+rwcFMNnSZFkupzXohxEbbB+7dk43m7j+tmDReTM6nFbKrF9mdvA95AA
         RpqLXo7c8fA6yrCeJgEDI3zJbCErHdY71dc8t5K9q7Zqyanjy6mW6DsIfsasrtmvedtD
         Mw2DUSW4T+c4yZVsNwK/t7NzQG8M/faQ9TEefjOwQwRBXg2YXJMSRwnDe58BdwThJZek
         eOGw==
ARC-Message-Signature: i=1; a=rsa-sha256; c=relaxed/relaxed; d=google.com; s=arc-20160816;
        h=content-transfer-encoding:subject:date:to:from:mime-version
         :message-id;
        bh=q12lAW4zen/O2oFMIIsId6/crvAvWVGZdSDT+YZFFrg=;
        fh=YVtwwdP2abWeUtV0ZJb090cqLD57D94m70R4Wxm11Qk=;
        b=eQ1svpo9BY/PYqSuJbR4EF52unOCbsSyscqwstEj+bCAPo5BIsdkXDo/HHQuAo7q/B
         9yXZOLbvx/5rFPP6D3gMU4zXEG1o53Rq4o4nljV/KBFLDC2JrdO5398PFutfmKn/kZuQ
         TAbmZSHrYD5zXkCz09S3ABacDiA/tKVbzzbbDTFhRZiH1deVICYkaakeN4pOmYUroBm/
         W5fJCLTnxStkG8nSjNGBCpqXlb4LJCSipflCAouEMXtSiHOjhEw8xsMw+j9VD4u8KccX
         ROiRP/KggRM6vE8vKvNcvXqXJxh4MqNIG4xx2mjIVsE8/gpno5dchh79EkEUBgBKCz6K
         Jvhw==
ARC-Authentication-Results: i=1; gmr-mx.google.com;
       spf=fail (google.com: domain of [email protected] does not designate 72.167.234.240 as permitted sender) [email protected];
       dmarc=fail (p=REJECT sp=REJECT dis=REJECT) header.from=mydomain.com
Return-Path: <[email protected]>
Received: from p3nlsmtp15.shr.prod.phx3.secureserver.net (p3nlsmtp15.shr.prod.phx3.secureserver.net. [72.167.234.240])
        by gmr-mx.google.com with ESMTPS id h3-20020a056e020d4300b0034201149242si424402ilj.4.2023.06.26.04.21.05
        for <[email protected]>
        (version=TLS1_2 cipher=ECDHE-ECDSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256 bits=128/128);
        Mon, 26 Jun 2023 04:21:05 -0700 (PDT)
Received-SPF: fail (google.com: domain of [email protected] does not designate 72.167.234.240 as permitted sender) client-ip=72.167.234.240;
Message-ID: <649974a1.050a0220.6e822.685eSMTPIN_ADDED_MISSING@gmr-mx.google.com>
Received: from P3NWVPWEB097 ([10.199.64.96]) by : HOSTING RELAY : with ESMTP id DkGKqn1rhoo1kDkGKq52Bi; Mon, 26 Jun 2023 04:20:04 -0700
X-CMAE-Analysis: v=2.4 cv=fu8aJn0f c=1 sm=1 tr=0 ts=64997464 a=2X41b4ieGfoJAKBLAMfEgQ==:117 a=lTqcXGTxAAAA:8 a=HpEJnUlJZJkA:10 a=kj9zAlcOel0A:10 a=ZxtOdjLW3A3A8yzWLrAA:9 a=CjuIK1q_8ugA:10 a=6J2MXjRvllIA:10 a=zgiPjhLxNE0A:10 a=ZXulRonScM0A:10 a=gUYKelx0uCsFxn6vNamb:22
X-SECURESERVER-ACCT: UNKNOWN
MIME-Version: 1.0
From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Date: 26 Jun 2023 04:20:04 -0700
Subject: E9 Testing internal authentication for mydomain.com ID: 6052 -Critical severity
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable
X-CMAE-Envelope: MS4xfCZVzH/weiIzVeAds755w5diehtJcUe7yU6spwAgQcxc7SyCnRujRCbElKHXBwQAQWZ3z41rpmtRoP0J6CMz/WXS3bbSBaRPS8krMoDpJ3oWv0p3YM/k Fgh2jl7We5xILVeCSbvkTER+rNk3UL2RT7gSOiPUhnXqpebdpIR+2OJ7V1bzmStnedEdq7f8K906kg==
X-Forwarded-For: [email protected] [email protected]

YOU SHOULD NEVER RECEIVE THIS EMAIL!

This email system failed to reject this fraudulent email.=20

This security issue is used often to compromise users, steal data, and mani=
pulate internal affairs.

To correct; Correct; complete a spoof report card, reference Email E9. For =
help with correcting these email security issues please email: humans@ignit=
ecyber.co


Sender Source IP: 1.2.3.4

These are the exact DNS records which have been live for 48+ hours.

;; CNAME Records
9515566.mydomain.com.   1   IN  CNAME   sendgrid.net.
emailauth.mydomain.com. 1   IN  CNAME   u9515566.wl067.sendgrid.net.
emailurl.mydomain.com.  1   IN  CNAME   sendgrid.net.
s1._domainkey.mydomain.com. 1   IN  CNAME   s1.domainkey.u9515566.wl067.sendgrid.net.
s2._domainkey.mydomain.com. 1   IN  CNAME   s2.domainkey.u9515566.wl067.sendgrid.net.

;; TXT Records
_dmarc.mydomain.com.    1   IN  TXT "v=DMARC1; p=reject; rua=mailto:[email protected],mailto:[email protected]; ruf=mailto:[email protected]; pct=100; adkim=r; aspf=r; ri=86400; fo=0; rf=afrf;"
mydomain.com.   1   IN  TXT "v=spf1 include:_spf.google.com include:sendgrid.net include:_spf.mx.cloudflare.net -all"

As shown, the DMARC and SPF are set to be about as strict as they can be with DMARC set to reject and SPF set to -all.

A tool like https://www.smartfense.com/en-us/tools/spoofcheck can successfully read the DNS records and it tells me "Not spoofable domain". See below:

enter image description here

Additonal information

  • mydomain.com is from the Google Domains registrar
  • I use the Google Domains email feature to forward incoming emails to a personal gmail account ([email protected])
  • I pointed the nameservers to Cloudflare to take advantage of their powerful features
  • I use the "Send mail as" Gmail feaure to send emails through Sendgrid by using their SMTP server smtp.sendgrid.net on port 456 over SSL so I can send emails from "[email protected]".

1 Answer 1

2

There are no technical limitations in the SMTP protocol that prevent someone from sending arbitrary body content in an email. In this context, body content refers to the data in the DATA or BDAT command, including the entire headers and body of an email. Some mail providers impose restrictions on the authenticity of certain headers, but others do not.

SPF, DKIM, and DMARC all provide context to receivers about whether a mail is authentic. Even if a mail fails all of these checks, a receiver is not obligated to reject it even if that was requested. A receiving SMTP server or recipient may choose to reject an email, accept an email, quarantine an email, or fold, spindle, and mutilate an email for any reason or none at all, including the results of SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. The behaviour of the receiving implementation and party is within its exclusive purview.

In your case, Google accepted it and delivered it anyway. If you don't like that behaviour, you should either configure your account or server differently if that's possible, contact Google and complain, or set up your own mail server that implements a policy you prefer. However, note that other parties may still choose to process spoofed mails pretending to come from your server notwithstanding their clear lack of authenticity.

3
  • Ok, I guess all I wanted to know is if I set everything up correctly, as I understand the ultimate decision to reject an email is out of my hands and totally up to the email service provider. I am new to this but I still expected it to be a little harder to spoof an email lol.
    – Ian W
    Commented Jun 27, 2023 at 1:52
  • The email RFCs were implemented at a time when spam didn't exist and people behaving poorly got their accounts terminated by their academic or government institution. The cryptography also didn't exist then to efficiently authenticate emails. Spoofing and impersonation were not originally problems at the time and couldn't have been efficiently solved with technical solutions anyway.
    – bk2204
    Commented Jun 27, 2023 at 21:43
  • I'd like to add to this that indeed the SPF, DKIM and DMARC records are strict and the domain is not spoofable -- unless the receiving email service provider ignores the records and accepts the email anyway. I believe in your case, @TMack, this might be related to the forwarding structure you chose to apply. Have you tried the same setting up a domain in Google Workspace where you host the actual mailbox? Have you tried sending a spoofed mail from [email protected] directly to [email protected]? These tests should definitely fail.
    – Reinto
    Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 9:02

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