How long will you keep forwarding emails? Read this and think twice.
Since the advent of the world wide web, the “chain letter” got from a paper letter to a cheaper, easier to disseminate electronic message.
We all are receiving constantly emails that are urging us to forward to all our friends. On social networking websites like Facebook, Tagged and MySpace, we got more and more postings on our “virtual walls” with more and more messages that we need to forward to our friends. And for what? Well , there are a lot of reasons, a lot of excuses and they are usually the same again and again.
Forward a message to XX amount of people and something good will happen to you
Forward a message to XX amount of people and you will get some good news in a few hours
Forward a message to XX amount of people and you will get good luck
Forward a message to XX amount of people and see how many return the favour
Forward a message to XX amount of people and if you receive 1 you are ugly, if you receive 2 you are not ugly, if you receive 3 you look OK etc.
These messages are coming in different colours , different spelling (usually wrong) and different pictures, but the theme is the same, and it is boring !!!
Many of these messages are harmless. The postings on social networking walls usually are just the work of people with nothing else to do in their lives and want to see a message they made appear in so many walls.
Some of these emails though are a single threat to your personal online security.
When you receive such an email and forward it to everyone in your contact list, what happens is that every time you press FORWARD, all the emails from the previous transmission are included in the new email.
I received a lot of these emails recently and I decided to count the email addresses in a message (not one by one … I used a forensic tool !) and I counted 1,392 UNIQUE email addresses. There were in fact 1,744 in total (many of them were double or triple entries).
This means that now I have 1,392 emails to sell as an emailing list, to abuse, to use for spamming, or to send some malware (a kind of virus) that will hijack these computers and I can use them for any kind of illegal activity, from the electronic networking for drug dealers to dissemination of child pornography. YES ! This is what someone can do with your email and the email addresses of your friends that you so easily spread around.
So next time you receive a message, think twice before you decide to forward it. And if you do, make sure you delete all emails in the message and then put the emails of your friends in the BCC and not to the TO or CC fields of your email. This will provide some form of security to all low level hackers and e-criminals.
If you need any further advice, feel free to contact me here on Triond or at www.StrathclydeForensics.co.uk for some advice on how to reduce the amount of spam that goes around.