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Address theft and mass mailing

29/10/11

Address theft and mass mailing

Permalink 10:30:09 am by Eugene Gardner, Categories: Security, General

I have recently received several e-mails purporting to come from people I know and trust which suggest I visit a website or buy something. These mails are not the sort of anatomical enhancement or Eastern European wife purchase schemes that have been common in recent times. If there is any doubt in my mind I always open these mails in a sandboxed environment just in case.

I often then receive a follow up message which is from the actual friend apologizing that their account has been 'hacked' and advising me not to buy the items previously exhorted. This mail is usually sent to all those in the sender's address book - I know this because I can see all the others listed in the CC: field of the message. My reply goes along the following lines:

Your account has probably not been hacked, more likely one of your correspondents. I suspect that someone had your address in their address book *or in an e-mail header* - as it might have been if anyone sent to all in their address book using the TO: or CC: field rather than the BCC: field for example. Their PC was not sufficiently protected and got an infection which silently harvested all the e-mail addresses it could. These would then be sent back to base to be sold on to a spammer - one who sells anatomical enhancement or Eastern European wife purchase schemes perhaps.

So the lesson is to NOT put more than the minimum names in the TO: or CC: field lest one off the recipients is not as fastidious in following proper computer housekeeping procedures as you. Always use the BCC: field for mass mailings.

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