You’ve heard in the news about company and website databases that are hacked. When this happens, you may get an email from a website or service that you’ve used prompting you to change your password. Please do it.
Within these breaches are email addresses. Sometimes they are used to email folks to try and sell them something. Other times they are used to try and get those on the receiving end to click through and either provide more information (phishing) and attempt to infect their computers.
Email addresses can also be “farmed” from contacts you’ve communicated with who’ve been infected. I’ve had this happen to me over the years. Here’s an example from a site visitor:
What has could be happening is that someone you have emailed in the past has a virus. That virus has farmed all the email addresses it can find on their system. Their computer is now sending out emails with those addresses in the From: field. Essentially that computer is now a “zombie” for the virus or worm.
Pick Your Email Battles
There are 215,298,720 emails sent every day. No way to track down everyone. And when it comes to spoofing, using other’s email addresses, those activities are usually run through multiple many times untraceable servers.
So, you may not hear from your ISP when you email them as there is not much they can do. Nor is there anything you can do. However, you want to make sure you are not the one who is infected with a virus and scan your computer immediately.
I’ve learned over the years to delete those returns. No way to track them down. Another example is when I find someone has stolen website content or photos off one of my websites, I have to pick my battles. If they are on a .ru or .cn, what are the chances I can get anything resolved?
Don’t worry about being blamed. It is common knowledge that spammers and virus creators are the culprits when this kind of thing happens.
And the adult email is most likely a farce that the virus is generating to be a trouble maker to lure particular recipients in. Those who know how to read email headers can quickly determine that the email did not originate from your account or ISP.
Identify and Report
There are sites like SpamCop.net where you can input the entire email and headers, and they track down the responsible parties if possible and report them to their ISP. However, if it is virus generated, there is no way to track those “thugs” down.
It probably will happen again and is part of the current online landscape. As long as knuckleheads are out there who do not protect themselves from viruses and hackers, there will be those waiting to exploit them.
I can understand your frustration. But I really wouldn’t worry about it. I am so exposed online that I see my email address on all kinds of things that didn’t come from me, and I’ve decided to choose my battles carefully. So should you.