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A Dispatch

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June 06, 2006

Headers Tell All

I know that most email users are absolutely terrified by the headers of email messages. They're hidden from normal view so as not to overwhelm Jane or Joe User with technical jibber-jabber. But the message header, despite the fact that so much of it can be forged by any spammer or cracker, contains valuable information for determining whether a message is legitimate or immediately worthy of the trash bin.

There are also occasionally some gems buried within headers that reveal how much contempt spammers have for their victims.

Take a message I just saw spamvertising the college-degree-in-a-month scam. It's the kind that doesn't mention the name of the institution, and simply provides a telephone number in the 206 area code—a number provided by a message-forwarding service. These messages always violate several provisions of the U.S. CAN-SPAM law, and I'm always eager to forward them to the Federal Trade Commission's spam refrigerator (spam@uce.gov) for possible use as evidence in future prosecutions.

Anyway, this message had a bunch of forged header fields, including the following:

Organization: lose.lose

I couldn't have said it any more succinctly.

Posted on June 06, 2006 at 11:16 PM