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John Doe Emailing

Pretending to be someone else is easy, but email headers give you away. However, even headers might not tell the true tale of where the email originated. Many email servers are poorly configured and allow external users to route or relay email messages through them. This relaying makes it seem as though an email message originated from one source when it really came from an attacker. This can make it difficult to validate the email's authenticity and track down the culprit.

Case Study 5-4

Curt received an email from a person who claimed to have information about some security weaknesses in the company Web site. The person offered to help Curt close the vulnerabilities for a large sum of money. If Curt chose not to pay for the assistance, the attacker would disclose the information to the public.

Curt immediately contacted the authorities as well as the company's network security team. As the network security team began looking for weaknesses in the Web site, the authorities reviewed the email Craig had received.

They explained to Curt that it would be difficult to track down who had sent the email message because the attacker had sent it through an offshore anonymous relay server to protect his identity. Curt would have to wait for the attacker to contact him again and see whether he slipped up.



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