Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Trace the source of an e-mail

Gmail 'Show original' (15/11/12)
Have you ever received an e-mail and wondered if you could check where it really came from? You can find out using the header information from any e-mail you receive.

Most e-mail software have a way to show the header information, for example:

  • In Gmail you can click the Show original option - see the example opposite.
  • In Outlook 2013, with the e-mail open click File | Properties.

Once you have the header text, copy it (select it and press Ctrl-C). 

You can paste the header text into an e-mail tracing website - it will analyse the information for you. For example:
(last accessed 16/04/2014)

Websites such as the one above can show you where in the world the e-mail was sent from - interesting!

However, a word of warning, sophisticated spam e-mails may be able to fake the header text. Another problem is that the header may only show the ISP (Internet Service Provider) of the e-mail. This of course maybe enough for you, just to know which country the e-mail came from of course. The most important thing to remember is that these websites (like the one above) can give you an indication or confirmation of the source of an e-mail but don't rely on the information 100%.

Updated 16th April 2014
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