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Email Security: The Dangers of Chain Emailing

written by: richmonjames•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 10/15/2008

Chain emailing has grown quite popular in the last decade. While they may sometimes be enjoyable, it is imperative that users understand the dangers which they pose.

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    Almost all email users have been exposed to chain emails – series of messages which contain multiple recipients and countless lines of forwarding. Some people enjoy these emails, though others consider them as mere annoyances. The truth be said, chain emails can actually be a significant source of danger, placing your system in jeopardy to hazardous spam and assorted infections. Certain aspects of chain emailing create capacity for uninvited users to permeate our emailing systems, making them unsafe to receive.

    Forward, Forward, Forward

    Often times, especially when chain emailing is in place, it is common for users to forward emails from person to person. Though it can be a convenient method to update someone on a subject, it can sometimes pose a significant security threat, by exposing recipient’s addresses for all to see. As the chain progresses, countless emails are placed into the message’s body, leaving each of these users susceptible to spamming.

    Chain emails are sent from person to person, often ending up with people you don’t even know. As a product of this, forwarded messages provide an effortless supply of email addresses to spammers, though you had not intended for this to occur. When crooks access these email addresses, they can sell them, or use them for spam. Users often wonder how spammers gain access to their email addresses – it can be as simple as grabbing your address from a long chain of forwards. To protect yourself and others you contact, it is wise to delete email ids addresses when using the forwarding feature, or make use of blind copying.

    Reply All

    A common mistake is for email users to accidentally Reply All to an email, which can end up as a chain email. In these cases, your email message is dispatched to all users which were included on the original email, which sometimes includes people with which we are unfamiliar. While such a precarious scenario may not happen too often, it can be disastrous if, and when such an anomaly occurs. By accidentally replying to all, it is possible to supply personal information to fraudulent recipients.

    • In cases where emails seem suspicious, be sure not forward the email to anyone else . Failure to forward emails to your friends will not bring you bad luck, nor can it bring you riches if you complete the tasks it says.
    • Reply to the sender, asking him to stop sending you chain emails. If you do not know the sender, report the email to your system as spam.
    • Delete the email, remembering that many of these messages are actually hoaxes. Some of these messages may even contain infections, and are not actually legitimate.

    On a final note, it is imperative that you stay attentive when managing these emails. Chain emails can bring about considerable dangers, and should be handled wisely, especially if unsolicited.