Get a strange email from an account you think you recognize? You might want to take a closer look. Recently, an email told me, I just won a cool $1,000,000 from an account with the address "firstname.lastname@example.org". A quick look at email header showed the email actually came from South Africa. The email address was forged and the header revealed it.
This one was easy to unmask. However, some of the good forgeries can make an email look very very close to authenticate. The email may even seem to come from the purported source. The email header may even seem to show that the email came from the IP address it should have. How is that possible?
With the right software all email header information can be manufactured and it's is easy to get someone's email and IP information beforehand, all they have to do is get the person to reply to a message, then they can use this as source information in their generated email.
If you are ever any doubt, don't reply to the email or click any links in the email. Instead, open a new browser window and go to the original site in your browser. Log in to the site using the site's normal log in. If you need to get the contact information for the site or your account, do it while you are logged in to the actual site. Don't rely on the contact information in the email or in a site you clicked to.
When you get a strange email supposedly from a person you know, the fast, easy way to clear up the matter is to ask the person directly if they actually sent you the email. Do not use the Reply feature to reply to the email you received. Instead, create a new email, using the email address from your contacts. Alternatively call or contact the person directly.
Thanks for reading, time for me to get back to work! Hope you'll take a look at my new book Windows 7: The Definitive Guide. Also just released is my book Exchange Server 2010 Administrator's Pocket Consultant.
William R. Stanek
williamstanek at aol dot com