Determining the Source of ‘Self’ Spam

Q: My employer is getting a ton of spam delivered to work e‑mail accounts. The messages appear to come from inside the organization, but we have not sent them. What’s causing this, and how do I correct it?

A: This problem can be caused by two major sources. The first is spammers who fake the “from” field in the e-mails they send. The second is a malware application running on your computers and sending e-mails without you being aware of it.

How can you tell which one is causing the e-mail messages in your inbox? If the message is coming from “yourself,” it is more likely that it is from spammers faking the “from” field. If the message appears to come from someone else in the organization, it’s probably being caused by malware running on his or her  computer.

Of the two, malware is much more dangerous. For example, in 1999, the Melissa worm, which was a Microsoft Word macro that sent itself to the first 50 contacts in a user’s Outlook address book, quickly spread across the Internet and caused overloaded mail servers to fail. That attack kept us IT professionals very busy for two weeks. Some companies even had to bring down their mail servers to stop the infection cycle until a patch was released.

The way to protect against such threats is to make sure you are using a reliable personal security application that combines anti-virus and personal firewall. AVG, Symantec, McAfee, ZoneAlarm and others will…


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