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RFC 7489, "Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC)", March 2015

Source of RFC: INDEPENDENT

Errata ID: 5220
Status: Reported
Type: Editorial

Reported By: Steven Hilton
Date Reported: 2017-12-31

Section A.6. says:

A.6.  Organizational Domain Discovery Issues

   Although protocols like ADSP are useful for "protecting" a specific
   domain name, they are not helpful at protecting subdomains.  If one
   wished to protect "example.com" by requiring via ADSP that all mail
   bearing an RFC5322.From domain of "example.com" be signed, this would
   "protect" that domain; however, one could then craft an email whose
   RFC5322.From domain is "security.example.com", and ADSP would not
   provide any protection.  One could use a DNS wildcard, but this can
   undesirably interfere with other DNS activity; one could add ADSP
   records as fraudulent domains are discovered, but this solution does
   not scale and is a purely reactive measure against abuse.

   The DNS does not provide a method by which the "domain of record", or
   the domain that was actually registered with a domain registrar, can
   be determined given an arbitrary domain name.  Suggestions have been
   made that attempt to glean such information from SOA or NS resource
   records, but these too are not fully reliable, as the partitioning of
   the DNS is not always done at administrative boundaries.

   When seeking domain-specific policy based on an arbitrary domain
   name, one could "climb the tree", dropping labels off the left end of
   the name until the root is reached or a policy is discovered, but
   then one could craft a name that has a large number of nonsense
   labels; this would cause a Mail Receiver to attempt a large number of
   queries in search of a policy record.  Sending many such messages
   constitutes an amplified denial-of-service attack.

   The Organizational Domain mechanism is a necessary component to the
   goals of DMARC.  The method described in Section 3.2 is far from
   perfect but serves this purpose reasonably well without adding undue
   burden or semantics to the DNS.  If a method is created to do so that
   is more reliable and secure than the use of a public suffix list,
   DMARC should be amended to use that method as soon as it is generally
   available.

It should say:

A.6.  Organizational Domain Discovery Issues

   Although protocols like ADSP are useful for "protecting" a specific
   domain name, they are not helpful at protecting subdomains.  If one
   wished to protect "example.com" by requiring via ADSP that all mail
   bearing an RFC5322.From domain of "example.com" be signed, this would
   "protect" that domain; however, one could then craft an email whose
   RFC5322.From domain is "security.example.com", and ADSP would not
   provide any protection.  One could use a DNS wildcard, but this can
   undesirably interfere with other DNS activity; one could add ADSP
   records as fraudulent domains are discovered, but this solution does
   not scale and is a purely reactive measure against abuse.

   The DNS does not provide a method by which the "domain of record", or
   the domain that was actually registered with a domain registrar, can
   be determined given an arbitrary domain name.  Suggestions have been
   made that attempt to glean such information from SOA or NS resource
   records, but these too are not fully reliable, as the partitioning of
   the DNS is not always done at administrative boundaries.

   When seeking domain-specific policy based on an arbitrary domain
   name, one could "climb the tree", dropping labels off the left end of
   the name until the root is reached or a policy is discovered, but
   then one could craft a name that has a large number of nonsense
   labels; this would cause a Mail Receiver to attempt a large number of
   queries in search of a policy record.  Sending many such messages
   constitutes an amplified denial-of-service attack.

   Certain TLDs could be classified as a Organizational Domains. The 
   benefits to those organizations do not yet justify the necessary 
   modifications to this document. An few organizations may 
   prefer the simplified reporting and DNS configuration of a 
   TLD Organizational Domain. This would require modifications to 
   this document and DMARC receivers for a capability that may not even
   be desired by those organizations that strictly control a TLD.

   The Organizational Domain mechanism is a necessary component to the
   goals of DMARC.  The method described in Section 3.2 is far from
   perfect but serves this purpose reasonably well without adding undue
   burden or semantics to the DNS.  If a method is created to do so that
   is more reliable and secure than the use of a public suffix list,
   DMARC should be amended to use that method as soon as it is generally
   available.

Notes:

RFC7489 does not address Organizational Top Level Domains. There are advantages and disadvantages to using a strictly controlled TLD as an Organizational Domain.

Advantages:
Simplified reporting for nonexistent domains
Simplified external reporting to another email address with the same TLD
Reduced need for multiple wildcard TXT records

Disadvantages:
Decreased flexibility for subdomains
A "_dmarc.tld" record is not be a dotless domain, but may not be recommended
Significant changes to current DMARC processing systems
New requirement to manage which TLDs are eligible to be Organizational Domains
Organizations with a strictly controlled TLD may not desire this change

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