Email address Spoofing – Someone is Using My address to Send Spam

Someone is Using Your Address to Send SPAM

You just got a bounce-back email saying that your email didn’t reach the destination because the recipient doesn’t exist. Nothing unusual, this is something that happens to anybody who is using email regularly; except you didn’t send that email. How could this happen? If you are an email server administrator and many of your users get this kind of bounce-back they all start to complain at once, thinking that your server has been hijacked. What can you do to stop this, and how to reassure your users that you haven’t been hijacked?

Sender Address Forgery known as email address spoofing is not a new technique. It is used for many things from spamming organizations to sending viruses and supporting scamming schemes where the sender fakes his identity.

Effective ways to stop Spammers to Use Your Domain Name

Publish SPF Data
SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is a method that allows you to publish which mail servers are authorized to send email for your domain. SPF uses a DNS record that tells email servers which servers are the servers that are trusted sources of email for the specific domain and how much to trust other sources of email originating from that domain. Destination servers might have the SPF checking implemented or not. Many of the today’s servers are SPF checking enabled.
Destination servers check this record and act in consequence. Anti-spam software on servers receiving emails, score an email based on SPF record and other criteria and accept or reject the email based on the total score. For instance if the SPF record tells that any emails originating from non authorized servers should not be trusted the email gets the necessary points to be treated as SPAM and it gets rejected. If the SPF record treats the non authorized servers neutral the message could pass or could be rejected if other it contains other SPAM characteristics.
Do not publish any email addresses on Web pages. This is the most common place for spammers to get valid email addresses and use them to forge email messages

If your company runs its own mail server configure it to ignore email sent to non-existent addresses in your domain. If your server sends a non-delivery report you reveal to a spammer valid addresses in your domain (the ones that don’t send NDRs). This attracts spam to those addresses. You waste bandwidth. The most common reason to send NDR’s for non-existent addresses is to let people know that they misspelled the address. Miss-addressed email can get lost easier.

If your domain gets blacklisted because of spoofing you have to contact the list which blacklisted you and show the Administrator what you did to correct the problem. This is very unlikely since the sender usually spoofs only the email sender and not the server’s address. A blacklist Admin should be able to figure out this.

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2 thoughts on “Email address Spoofing – Someone is Using My address to Send Spam”

  1. We’ve recently implement DKIM also. It signs outgoing email using a private key. The public key is published in your DNS records so that receiving servers can verify that the email is indeed from your domain. This has the advantage that it can go thru other gateways/be forwarded and not be inadvertently blocked along the way.

    We use Hexamail Guard to do incoming DKIM checking and outbound DKIM signing

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