Check email header information for signs of spoofing

By December 3, 2018 Email, Security, Tech Tip
Email Spoofing

Think about this scenario: A friend tells you that they received a message from your email address that wasn’t really sent from you. They think you’ve been hacked and your account is sending malicious emails to friends. How do you know if your email address account has been compromised, or if this malicious attempt is just spoofing your email address?

Email “spoofing” means that an attacker is impersonating you by pretending to send an email from your account. The recipient of the email will see your email… but if you dig deeper into the email message’s contents, you can often see whether the email was truly sent from your account or only made to appear so.

This type of impersonation is possible because email messages can show a difference between “display” information and the actual information embedded in what’s called the “email header”. Spoofing is an attempt to forge the email header, taking advantage of email protocols’ lack of authentication.

How do you view an email header or the “original message”?

  • In Gmail, while viewing the email, click the More icon (three vertical dots) at the top right and select “Show original” from the list.
  • In Outlook, open the email, then go to File > Properties and look in the Internet headers

If the authenticated sender, or “from” address, in the email’s properties matches your email address, then your account was compromised. But if the sender’s email address in the properties isn’t your address, then it may have simply “spoofed” your email while actually sending from a different account.

It always pays to check email message discrepancies. Keep an eye out for display names and “from” addresses that don’t seem to match each other, or don’t match the original message properties.


Recent Posts / View All Posts

Spring Cleaning Your Spam Filter WhiteList

Spring Cleaning Your Spam Filter Whitelist

| Security | No Comments
It's time to add your spam filter whitelist to your spring cleaning routine. For some of us who have been using the same spam filter for years, we may have a long list of allowed addresses or domains. Because phishing email is involved in 91% of breaches, I can't stress enough how important it is to manage your whitelist. As security has evolved, I continually find things that I did months or years ago that I would do differently today. So, I am learning to go back and review the things that are on autopilot to make sure they meet…
Security Awareness

Security Awareness Training: Time to Jump on the Bandwagon

| Security | No Comments
Human error. We talk about it all the time, but what exactly do we mean? Human error occurs when an individual does something with an unintended outcome. In cybersecurity, it’s easy to point the finger at employees as being an organization’s weakest link. An IBM study found that human error accounts for 95% of security incidents, yet security awareness training for employees often ends up on the back burner. But without appropriate security awareness training provided by the employer, how can employees truly know what to watch out for? Is security awareness training a priority? In a recent survey by…

Organize Using Outlook’s Color Categories

| Tech Tip | No Comments
Want to become more organized in Outlook? You can create your own color-coded labels with the Categorize feature to know at a glance what emails and calendar items are. Here’s how! Outlook’s Categorize Feature You can find the Categorize option in Outlook on the Ribbon or toolbar. You can start using the categories as is, or you can customize them with your own labels. Changing the Category Labels You can label the default color categories for your own needs. Go to Home > Categorize (in the Tags group) on the Ribbon From the drop-down list, choose All Categories. Click on…