Picture this scenario if you will: You get an email from somebody who’s name you recognize, but something is wrong. The email makes no sense, or is asking you to click on a link or some other suspicious request. You correctly spot that the email was not actually written by your acquaintance. And sometimes it’s because that person’s email has been compromised and someone is having a field day with it, sending unsolicited emails to all the person’s contacts. This happens sort of often these days.
But although the first assumption is that the person’s email has been stolen or compromised, that is not necessarily the case. As you know, when setting up an email account you normally have an email address itself AND your name. These are two separate bits of information that can be stored in an email. So strictly speaking, that can be used to “spoof” emails. How?
Let’s say Joe Blow is my friend, and by one method or another, somebody finds that out, and my email address. Now that person can send a spoofed email from a “firstname.lastname@example.org” email address, but he fills out “Joe Blow” as the name. When one sees the email, many times one will see the “Joe Blow ” part, and not realize that the email address has nothing to do with that person.
If you pay close attention to those fields in an email, you can see the actual email address and then can decide whether the actual email account has been stolen/compromised/hacked or somebody is just spoofing it. The section of the email that has all that information is called headers.
So pay attention to the headers and you won’t be so easily fooled.
The above is not the only method used to spoof emails. There are actually ways to spoof the email address the email is coming from so you think the email address is correct as well as the name. Those require more expertise to recognize and identify and go beyond the scope of this article. But at least anyone can recognize the above scenario and avoid been fooled.