spam email from friends: hacked or spoofed

Orig­i­nally posted by Rich Pasco

Very often, I receive junk mail (spam) with a “From:” address of one of my con­tacts, for exam­ple a friend or fel­low team mem­ber. The mail might con­tain an adver­tise­ment for Via­gra or replica Rolex watches, a sad story about being robbed while on vaca­tion (and please wire money), or just a link to a web site which could down­load mali­cious soft­ware onto my com­puter. In such cases, I delete that e‑mail with­out click­ing on the poten­tially dan­ger­ous link.

Just as often, a friend or fel­low team mem­ber con­tacts me stat­ing that junk mail is going out in their name and ask­ing what to do about it. Here is what I reply:

Hacked or Spoofed?

It is impor­tant to know whether your mail is hacked or spoofed. Let’s define these terms:

HACKED — Mail is actu­ally being sent from your account by some­one logged in to your server as you.

SPOOFED — Mail is being sent from some­where else with your address being forged onto its “From:” line.

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