Sunday. You stay at home to stay away from the hustle and bustle. You start your computer, check emails as usual, while also plan to find some hilarious episodes on Netflix to kill the boredom. However, lying among your emails is one that says your Netflix account has been restricted. How come is that happening?
Sender of the Email
Strange. It addresses you as “customer” instead of your username and includes several language mistakes. Is it legitimate?
Click the little triangle by “email@example.com” and you see:
Claiming itself to be a Netflix email, it has a domain name of [mentalcengeng.com] – apparently not legitimate, and the trail of number following “noreply” is rather suspicious.
Actually, this is a typical phishing bait collected in Baits Used in Phishing Email (3). If you take the bait and do as instructed in the phishing links, you’ll hand over your Netflix account and probably credit card information to scammers. Financial losses are around the corner.
Sender Name or Sender Address
Two concepts about email sender have to be differentiated here.
- Sender name is the name chosen to appear above your email. It’s a huge plus to inform the recipient of who the sender is, in case the sender is unfamiliar to the recipient. However, this feature is as user sensitive as everything else.
- Sender address is the email address of the sender. It is usually folded under the sender name.
Here we are going to highlight how to read a sender address, in which the point is domain name. Used to define an organization within the Internet, the domain name is shown in the organization’s websites or email addresses.
Hence, when you see things the other way around, you’ll know the sender’s organization through its email address. For example, if you receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org, you can search on Google and get this brief introduction. The risk here is that it’s hard to decide whether [mrtwentytwenty.tech] or [mr2020.official.tech] also belong to the same legitimate domain.
Luckily, if you have installed Mr. Post, you can save the trouble and confusion, as you can get access to a succinct introduction of the sender’s organization with one click.
Last defense: Can sender address be faked?
It’s already a giant leap to be able to read the information in sender address. However, the Internet is full of surprises, because even the sender address you see might be a fake one.
There are even step-by-step instructions to teach you how to fake an email from anyone – I know you won’t bother to do that, but scammers would certainly make every effort possible to puzzle you.
As you can see, the cost of spoofing email is extremely low – a computer, some instructions and a well-functioning brain will do. This is why technologists have invented SPF (Sender Policy Framework) to regulate emailing.