Lessons from “Emailgate” – Understanding Email Headers

Coming out of the recent “Emailgate” scandal in Trinidad & Tobago implicating government ministers in a sinister plot, several of our clients have asked how the authenticity of email correspondence can be verified.

IT professionals know that just a cursory look at email internet headers can reveal key information regarding the source, path and destination of email messages. Email internet headers determine where a message is sent, and records the specific path the message follows as it passes through each mail server.

Following are some basic guidelines on reading full email headers:

How to View Email Internet Headers

Microsoft Outlook

  1. From your Outlook Inbox, Right Click on the specific message

  2. Click Options or Message Options depending on your version of Outlook.

Gmail

  1. Open the message in your Gmail inbox.

  2. Click the down-arrow in the top-right corner of the message.

  3. Click the “Show original” link toward the bottom of the options box.

Windows Live Hotmail

  1. Open the desired email in Windows Live Hotmail.

  2. Click the down arrow next to Reply in the message’s header area near the sender and subject.

  3. Pick “View message source” from the menu.

Yahoo Mail

  1. Open the email message in your Yahoo Mail inbox.

  2. Click the “Full Headers” link located in the lower-right corner of the email message

Here’s what an email internet header looks like:

Delivered-To: MrSmith@gmail.com Received: by 10.36.81.3 with SMTP id e3cs239nzb; Tue, 29 Mar 2005 15:11:47 -0800 (PST) Return-Path: Received: from mail.emailprovider.com (mail.emailprovider.com [111.111.11.111]) by mx.gmail.com with SMTP id h19si826631rnb.2005.03.29.15.11.46; Tue, 29 Mar 2005 15:11:47 -0800 (PST) Message-ID: <20050329231145.62086.mail@mail.emailprovider.com> Received: from [11.11.111.111] by mail.emailprovider.com via HTTP; Tue, 29 Mar 2005 15:11:45 PST Date: Tue, 29 Mar 2005 15:11:45 -0800 (PST) From: Mr Jones Subject: Hello To: Mr Smith

How to easily Analyze Internet Headers

Google has a free app that will analyze the content of internet headers and provide the relevant information.

Simply go to the following site: https://toolbox.googleapps.com/apps/messageheader/analyzeheader and paste the contents of the internet header in the text field. Then click “Analyze Header Above”

You can try this with the header above to see how it works.

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