Earlier this year I received a Facebook invite in my Yahoo! Mail account from none other than Angelina Jolie herself. I kid you not.
While it’s true that we live in the Digital Age where communicating with anyone is a mere tap of a finger away—whether it’s via email, IM, Facebook, Twitter, etc.—the chances that Ms. Jolie would randomly reach out to a regular Joe, such as myself, is still pretty darn improbable. So, the following questions raced through my mind:
- What in Brad’s name would compel Angelina to friend me?
- Did my mom put me up for adoption? (Can she even do that at my age?!?)
- Why did the invite end up in my spam folder?
This last question is especially relevant for my role here at Yahoo! Mail, where I am part of the anti-spam team. Our mission is to ensure that wanted messages get to the inbox and insidious ones remain out of sight.
After suspending my disbelief for a second, I realized that the invite was a well-crafted forgery. It even spoofed Facebook’s mailing domain, facebookmail.com, to make it seem authentic (email was sent from an IP address in Poland). My trained eye saw through the deception, even though my strained ego wanted to believe it.
Spammers send such spoofed messages by the millions every day, and try to lure recipients into clicking nefarious links in the message by dangling compelling, socially-engineered bait. Perhaps the link leads to a phishing page designed to steal log-in credentials, or a site that sells prescription drugs for cheap. Worse, it may point to a file that silently installs malicious software that logs every key stroke and silently sends it off to some evil mastermind.
The point is, any link found in spam leads to no good. That’s why I didn’t click on any links in that invite; I just deleted the email. You should do the same when you receive a suspicious or unsolicited message—especially if you find it in your spam folder.
In an upcoming sequel to this post, I’ll provide more details on how our anti-spam team is leveraging anti-forgery technologies, such as DKIM and SPF, to step up the fight against such spoofed and phishing emails.
Source: Yahoo! Mail Blog