Spam is unsolicited email that we receive in our inboxes that is an irritating and an annoying experience. The hijacking of email accounts and they being used to send unsolicited spam emails to known contacts and others is quite a common occurrence. When spam gets send out from our legitimate email accounts it can be embarrassing because unsolicited email is never welcome and clutters the inbox. Spam emails can also be used for phishing purposes and redirect people to URLs where their email accounts can end being compromised. For this purpose, we will be taking Gmail account into context of Spam:

Step 1: Login into your Gmail account. After logging in, the first step to identify that spam email is being sent from your account is to open the sent folder:

Step 2: After clicking on sent email you will be welcomed with this screenshot:

Step 3: Select the spam message sent in your inbox folder. Click the down arrow next to the reply arrow. Select “show original:

After clicking on show original you will be shown this gargled text:

The immediate thing to identify from the full header is to see “Received From” towards the top of the header. Then we can use this to record the footprint of the email through the internet. The line above will reveal the origin of the email and works all the way through to your IP address at the bottom of the header. The IP address may look like 91.233.148.15 for example. Copy that specific IP address and head over to http://www.dnssy.com , scroll down the page and paste it in the WHOIS lookup tab: When I did a WHOIS lookup I got this:

Step 4: Now it is important to identify if your account is compromised or not by scrolling down on your Gmail page and clicking on last account activity:

If you observe the recent activity tab, it reflects your account history when it was last accessed and how long ago etc. with detail of IP addresses used from where you login. This makes it much easier to trace if your account has ended up being compromised or not, and the actual reason for emails being sent as spam. The basic steps to avoid your account from being compromised is to not reply to unsolicited emails or click on the URLs in it. It ensures the spammer that the account is active and then redirect you to a webpage where it can request for your email address and password and then eventually compromise it. In case of any suspicions keep on checking the ‘activity’ on this account feature of Gmail to ensure your account isn’t compromised.

Those with Hotmail and Yahoo mail accounts experiencing the same problem above please visit the URLs given below:

Microsoft Hotmail: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windowslive/forum/all/my-hotmail-account-is-sending-out-spamviruses/009a5bd9-b65a-e011-8dfc-68b599b31bf5

Yahoo Mail: https://help.yahoo.com/kb/account-continues-send-spam-sln2159.html

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, October 12th, 2014

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