Computer & PC Help

Is that email REAL or FAKE – How to Tell20 Jul

I guess you could say I’m in my own private war against spam and other phony emails. In an attempt to “even the playing field” here are some tips to determine if an email is real or fake.
Sometimes a fake email can come from an email address you recognize but the email,  it looks funny to you. What you need to do first and always before you click on any link or open any attachment is LOOK AT IT!   Examine the email – most people do not do this they simply assume that because the sender is someone they know its fine. Well it’s not fine! There is something called spoofing – spoofing means simply using a real name with a different email address attached to it, so for example – my email address is Ilene@awtcs.com. Most likely when you get that email it will just say Ilene and you will not know if it’s really me.  If the mail was spoofed it would say Ilene except the email address would be something completely different from @awtcs.com. Same with banks it can come in for example as Citibank, or Bank of America or even IRS, USPS or FedEx… You will not know unless you look at the email and read the actual address. This is how ALL viruses, hacking, phishing etc. occurs. You get an email you think it’s ok,  you click on the link and open that file. It takes 2 seconds and you’re infected. I’ve had people get infected time and time again – the worst of it all is the Crypto-Ransom virus which mainly affects businesses – this doesn’t mean an average home user can’t get infected – it means for now these people are targeting businesses. These emails come in the guise of Fed-ex or UPS emails telling the user they have a package arriving. The user thinking that they may have a package arriving and wants to check on that status,  clicks on that attachment and every document, every database and every spreadsheet gets encrypted and it is basically locked unless you pay within 24 hours. There is no cure and no way around it. All data everywhere in the business is gone! And unless you have full backups of everything you will never see it again. So basically you can be out of business. Just because you pay doesn’t mean you will get your data back and by paying you are only encouraging the offenders to continue to do it.  To avoid this all you would need to do is look at the email address and it will tell you who it really came from.  Once you know that you can just delete it and save yourself all that aggravation.
So what to do to identify an email? Well there’s something called headers – if you identify the headers you will be able to see the real email address. So for those of you using programs like Outlook or Outlook Express or windows live there are easy ways to view these headers. Here are some examples:

For Yahoo mail do the following: Go to the email and just open it. Look at the tool bar on the top it will say “More” pull the arrow down until you see View Full Header

Yahoo E-Mail Headers

Click on View Full Header this screen will show up… you need to keep scrolling down until you see the email address.  I’ve highlighted it in Blue so you can see it.  This one is a real address See 2nd example… If is wasn’t real it could say something like xysf@hotmail.com or gmail.com or even aol.com anything but from where the mail is supposed to be from.

yahoo header 1yahoo header 2

 

For outlook it’s a little different… there’s a help associated with outlook 2010 and 2007 which will show you how to view headers. Here’s a good link for that. (you will need to copy and paste this in your browser)
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook-help/view-e-mail-message-headers-HA001230300.aspx
Or within the program of outlook go to help and look up display headers – this will show you how.

 

This is Windows Live Mail 2011 for people with Windows 7. If you hover the mouse over the email address it will pop up like this..

windows live example

Same with Windows 8.1 if you use the mail program just click on the address and it will show you the senders address

photo

Any program you use you can always see the senders return address by viewing the headers. This will tell you who exactly is sending you the mail. So once again just because you know that email address it still could be spoofed – look at the mail before you decide to just click on that attachment or link in that mail. Take any of the steps I’ve mentioned in this blog, you should be able to detect if that mail is real or not and this will help immensely in determining if you should trash or open the mail.   Just look at the senders return address and it will let know exactly where that email originated from.
Remember just because you open the email doesn’t mean an automatic infection – the only way you’ll get infected is if you click on a link embedded within that mail or if you click on the attachment in the mail.

Lastly I’ll direct you to this article which explains it how to view headers in all email and web-mail programs.

http://oithelp.nd.edu/email-and-calendaring/full-headers/

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