Knowledgebase: Email & Newsgroups
Email Tips & Tricks
Posted by Clarke M on 27 March 2006 09:02 PM
Did you ever have questions like:

"How did this message reach me? It is addressed to someone else!"
"Will the REAL sender of this message please stand!"
"Why am I receiving bounce backs from messages that I never sent?"

First some background:

When email was invented there were not a lot of people trying to find ways to abuse the system so security was not a high priority. Today most electronic mail can be classed as 'Spam': unwanted messages.

These messages are typically created by a software program, sent from temporary accounts using false sender information with no valid return address and addressed to a computer-generated list of users most of whom do not actually exist.

Naturally most of these do nothing for the sender but that does not stop them since the cost to them is so low. If just one person in 1000 clicks the link that says 'Click here if you want to stop receiving these messages' they have acheived at least part their goal....They have found a valid and active email account which they can target or sell to other spammers.



Headers: Looking behind the facade.

Whats all written on the electronic envelope? You might think that just an address would be enough but every computer that a message passes through has to add its two-cents worth. The resulting collection of notes is called the headers.

To view headers:
Outlook Express: click File - Properties - Details
Netscape 7: View - Headers - All

What's in it for me?

Often the Headers will give the actual internet address of the computer that sent a message . something like "205.189.48.58" .With so much false info in emails these days it can be useful to know which computer the message really came from. For example, a customer from an Unnamed Internet company contacted us to complain about spam been sent from one of our customers. When they displayed the headers it showed that the offending message was actually sent from his own computer! Probably by a virus. The sender's name had been forged but the headers gave it away.

This is why user 'A' can have a virus and send out thousands of messages listing user 'B' as the sender. Guess who ends up with all the bounced back (return to sender) messages.

Want more info?

Theres lots of info available on the internet. Here's a list of links:

http://www.stopspam.org/email/headers.html

http://help.mindspring.com/docs/006/emailheaders/

http://www.iinet.net.au/support/spam/understanding.html

http://support.nethere.net/kb/index.php?page=index_v2&id=18&c=10

- Art
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