Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Eddi's Hot Computing Tip -- Learn How To Trace An E-Mail

Example of a traced email -- back to The Netherlands

Most people do not realize how simple it is to trace the physical location of someone sending you an email. This is one of the easiest things to do when it comes to internet detective work.  This can come in handy when someone, for example, attempts to conceal their actual identity with an anonymous address.

Its a 3-step process.

1. Open the header of your email. All emails come with headers.

2. Look for the IP address in the header. These are formatted a certain way and are easy to find. Some email services do not routinely put in the senders IP address, these may then be had if the email provider storing the email (such as Google or Yahoo) is issued a routine subpoena which most attorneys or local law enforcement officials can do on their own.

3. Trace the IP address at one of many web sites.

The first thing you will need to do is open a header.  Each email is different. For Gmail, go to the email you wish to trace, and look for the down arrow to the right of the reply arrow. Open it, and look for Show Original.

There are many web sites that can show you how to do this for a wide range of emails. . Here is one.

The second thing you need to do is find the IP address in the header (remember, it may be missing in some emails from some services).  The IP address will usually be found in the "received from" line. You can learn more about how to find an IP address here, it is not hard to do:

The third thing you need to do is the easiest. Find the exact physical location of the email sender. You can also match up IP addresses to see if the same device is sending different messages using different addresses.

All you have to so is use a trace web site like this one. There are many around:

Thats it folks!  You just learned a trick that law enforcement departments and others around the world use to enhance security.

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