My Email Was Hacked!

Posted Thu, Mar 21, 2019, From CS Tech
CS Tech is a long time resident of Secaucus and a computer programmer specializing in client-server applications over the internet. If you have any computer or internet related questions or issues that you would like us to write about, please contact us and let us know.
Do you know anyone from royalty? Sure you do. At one point or another, we have all received an email from a Nigerian prince to help transfer money to the U.S. Yes, from phishing scams to ads for male enhancement drugs, most of us have accepted SPAM emails like these to be part of the wonderful world wide web. And by now, most of us can recognize them pretty easily. In fact, most email service providers have built-in tools to protect against such nuisances.

Recently, though, I have been noticing the trend of a new scheme in SPAM emails thanks to the current popularity of bitcoins. The following is one of these emails (the bitcoin address has been blacked out):

Now, before you jump to any conclusions, no, I am not a big aficionado of adult content. But regardless, that is not the most interesting part of this email. The most interesting line to me is:
Do not waste your time and try to msg me or alternatively find me, it is hopeless, since I directed you a letter from YOUR own hacked account.
The poor grammar aside (which is common among SPAM), this line caught my eye more than the blackmail attempt itself. That's because given how much we do online nowadays, a hacked email account can have serious repercussions. So I checked the return address of this email, and I indeed saw my own email address! HOLY ****! This email DID come from my own account! My account has been hacked! Well, not really, it just seems that way.

For those of us familiar with the technical details of how emails work, we know that the way the sender address is tied to the email message itself is very simple. It is so simple, in fact, that a hacker can VERY easily send an email as anyone. A family member, a bank, yourself, the president of the United States, anyone.

If you think about it, this same hack can be achieved with traditional postal mail as well. When you mail a letter, you can put any name you want in the upper left hand corner of the envelope as the return address. And to the recipient of that letter, it would seem like the sender is whomever's name you decided to put there. It takes more know-how to do it with email. But for those with that knowledge, it is just as easy.

So the next time you receive a threatening email from yourself. there is no need to panic. You don't need to immediately change all your passwords. It is with 99% likelihood that your email account has not been hacked. The easiest way to tell? Simple. Check your SENT folder. If that email actually came from your email account, there should be a record of it in your SENT folder. If there isn't one, it is 99% likely that you are safe
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