Henry County Web, henry county,kentucky

Henry County Web
FYI Journal

SPOOFING, SPAMMERS, & HEADERS -- Oh My!
(updated 11/27/09)

SPAM is a part of "Internet Life." What is it? Depending on whom you ask it is an acronym for Soliciting, Promoting, Advertising and Merchandising or a reference to Monty Python's Flying Circus famous routine "SPAM." Internet Administrators define it as Unsolicited Business Mail or Commercials (UBM or UBC) or cross posting (multi-posting) to Internet newsgroups. What you consider unsolicited email might vary from that of the ISP or subscription service that you use, or the laws enacted and pending by various governments. Cross posting and multiposting occurs in relation to newsgroups and message boards when an advertisement is sent to more then 4-10 groups or postings are "off-subject" to a group. For example, posting petcare advertising to discussion groups dealing with space travel, physics, education reform, etc.

There are many ways that spammers get around ISP "terms of use" issues and many techniques used by spammers to get you to open their email when you would otherwise hit the "delete" button. One of those techniques is "spoofing."

As brief as possible: "Spoofing" is a tactic usually employed by a "spammer" to appear to be a trusted or authentic sender of email in order to circumvent anti-spam laws or ISP terms of service violations. Spoof email relies on those that are new or novice to the Internet (folks that can't read the "language of headers"), are gullible, or have an email program that does not reveal "headers." An email that says FROM: myfriendjoe@work.com may actually be from a total stranger. A "spoofer" employs techniques to alter email from another party and often obscure origination information with false headers.

"So how do I know if it really came from my friend Joe?"

One way is to look at the headers.

OK...so what's a "header?"   Ironically, "headers" may appear at the end of an email, more often they are at the top of an email. Some email programs don't display headers at all or only partial headers. Some programs have to be configured to display headers. Most people would describe headers as a bunch of unintelligible computer "stuff" in their email that they never bother to read because they don't have any idea what it's all about anyway.

I won't detail the process of "decoding" the information in a header but here's what one looks like:
(Information has been altered to preserve privacy.)

X-Persona: <Henry County Web>
Received: from outxxxmta.topxxx.com (outxxxmta.topxxx.com [###.132.##.#41]) by pop3.xxx.xxx (8.8.8/8.6.9) with SMTP id EAAxx718 for <xxx@xxxxx.com>; Tue, 6 Mar 2001 04:27:55 -0500 (EST)
To: tixxorxx-win98tips@topxxx.com
From: TipXxx tipXxx@boxing.topxxx.com
Subject: Microsoft Windows 98 [TRACKING YOUR INTERNET CONNECTION - 03/06/2001]
Date: Tue, 06 Mar 2001 01:27:13 -0800
Message-ID: <0.1800000432.1490049996-951758591-983870833@topica.com>
X-Topica-Loop: 1800000432
X-UIDL: 9488ef9bcc8930b26448f88ea2ab3135

If the open email says FROM: myfriendjoe@work.com, the header may or may not say the same in the FROM line, or perhaps something similar.

If Joe is your friend and you regularly receive email from him you probably are familiar with "his style." We all have a style of emoticons we use, phrases, etc. Suppose that you know that Joe always signs his email "ttyl -JB" and always has a business "signature file" at the end. Your email that looks like it came from Joe but doesn't have his typical "ttyl -JB" at the end might be from someone else. 'Better email the real "Joe" and ask him about this email.

If you think you have a bona fide spammer problem you can report the spam. But, FIRST, determine if it really IS spam. Contact the sending domain's service provider at abuse@xxxxx.xxx (where xxxxx.xxx is apparent domain name). Let them take over from there. They will request that you send samples of the offending message, so don't trash the spam until after the domain administrator replies to your report.

The above suggestions are just that, suggestions. They are only the tip-of-the-iceberg in dealing with spam. If you want to learn more about how to read "headers" and other SPAM related issues I recommend visiting:

www.spamcop.net
www.arachnoid.com/lutusp/antispam.html The Anti-Spam Home Page
www.samspade.org    and the software to install on your PC: http://majorgeeks.com/Sam_Spade_d594.html

Many email programs and Service Providers include Spam Filtering.  That's a good thing, mostly.  But make sure you now where the filtered email goes so you can review it should a "good" email accidently get junked.  Some providers allow you to create a black list/white list (even some anti-virus programs include black/white lists) and some set there own rules and may be a little "over zealous" in protecting you from unwanted mail.

WEB HOSTING!

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This site was created by Joyce K. Meyer, on October 26, 1997.
Last revised on 03/31/15.