Making emails look as if they came from a trusted colleague or friend is a critical tool used by attackers.
It’s easy enough to fake what appears in the “from” or “reply- to” line of an email message. That’s the bad news. The good news? If you dig a little deeper, you can usually figure out the message’s true origin.
When you receive an email, the message header includes standard information, like “to,” “from,” and “subject.” But there’s also a more detailed, full email header that can help you trace the message back to its original source to see if that matches up with what the more basic message header says.
Some tips from experts:
- If the “from” in the message header doesn’t correspond with what you see in the full version of the email header, be suspicious of a scam.
- So how do you look at the full version? It doesn’t automatically appear, but it’s easy to find. Unfortunately, how you do this depends on what program you use to read your email. A quick Google search on “full header outlook,” or “full header gmail,” for example, will help you figure this out.
- Once you’re looking at this header, common sense takes over. For example, if an email claims to come from the Veterans Administration and the “from” field says va.gov—but the full version has some bizarre long email address, possibly ending in .ru—well, you’ve got a scam on your hands.
- Also be wary of typos, which can be sneakier than they look. Using the example above, if an email address looks legit, as in email@example.com, note the “com” where there should be a “gov.”
source: Texas Systems Group
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