Browsers, E-mail, & Web Apps forum

General discussion

E-mail hijacked and sending spam to Address Book friends

by msnewbie / July 3, 2010 2:01 AM PDT

I have a dell dimension 3000 running windows xp. I am a Comcast.Net e-mail user using a broadband cable at my home. Somehow my e-mail account is sending e-mails with a one line link to various members of my address book. 15-20 per day. The link address is not always the same, but sends people to the same site (Canadian Pharmacy Viagra ads). I am not "receiving" them, so I can't check origination. I have Norton Internet Security 2010 running and it is not showing anything wrong. Comcast said to take my machine in or change the user name and password on my account. Any best practices that could be shared with me?

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: E-mail hijacked and sending spam to Address Book friends
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: E-mail hijacked and sending spam to Address Book friends
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
First thing
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / July 3, 2010 8:44 PM PDT

Try an anti-malware scan with the following two utilities;

Malwarebytes' Anti-malware, and


One at a time, download and install each, run them, update their definitions, then perform a full scan with them.

For general tips, you couldn't do worse than consider the TTIPS FOR A PROBLEM FREE COMPUTING EXPERIENCE by Jimmy.

I hope that helps.


Collapse -
Tried all this
by msnewbie / July 12, 2010 3:21 AM PDT
In reply to: First thing

Purchased and downloaded Norton Internet Security 2010 ($79.95) Ran full scan. Downloaded and ran both of the suggestions above. Nothing changed.

Collapse -
Comcast sending Canadian drug spam
by joreill21 / July 11, 2010 11:05 PM PDT

I have the same thing, confirmed by going to the Comcast mail page and checking in "Sent" mail - I use Outlook so I wasn't seeing the outgoing mails either.
I was getting errors when the account sent the spam to inactive accounts, and some complaints from old friends.
When I looked in my Comcast address book (which I haven't used in years), I found the "Sent" mails tracked with the list. Also, I knew it wasn't my machine as mail was being sent when my machine was shut off (and I'm not on another mail server or network).
I just deleted all e-mail entries from my Comcast address book, which should take care of the problem.

Collapse -
Ready to try anything
by msnewbie / July 12, 2010 12:55 AM PDT

I will look in my Address Book for a SENT list. Not sure what this is or how it is different from the SENT folder. I might try deleting all friend entries in my Address Book. Maybe I could reload them if the problem stops.

Collapse -
I meant the Sent folder
by joreill21 / July 12, 2010 1:10 AM PDT
In reply to: Ready to try anything

That's where I found all the mail that had been sent - I cross-referenced them to my address book, and deleted the entries that had been sent spam.
Not sure if re-entering the addresses on Comcast will fix anything, it's obvious the problem is in THEIR server, and NOT your machine.

I;ll post again if this doesn't work, let me know how yours goes.

Collapse -
I'm deleting everyone
by msnewbie / July 12, 2010 3:26 AM PDT

I printed a hard copy of my Address Book. I then deleted everything in it. I deleted all sent items from the SENT folder. Deleted all SPAM. Then emtied TRASH CAN. Hopefully, no spam e-mails can go out as there is nothing in my address book or references from any prior activity. I'll be checking twice a day.

Collapse -
Don't forget...
by Jamfan55 / July 14, 2010 12:15 AM PDT
In reply to: I'm deleting everyone

to change your password. That should be the first thing you do.
Sounds like someone else has access to your account. Have you signed up for anything lately, used a questionable app, visited a porn site, or used an unencrypted public wifi connection? Do you use the same password for your email that you use for your myspace, facebook, twitter, etc?

Collapse -
Well, THAT didn't work
by joreill21 / July 14, 2010 7:04 AM PDT
In reply to: I'm deleting everyone

My account is still sending spam from the same list.

Funny thing is, when I try to forward any of the messages to another e-mail address, nothing comes through.

Collapse -
too late...
by Jamfan55 / July 14, 2010 11:37 AM PDT
In reply to: Well, THAT didn't work

If someone else did get into your account, they likely already copied your address book and the addresses from your saved correspondances, and maybe changed some settings.
So taking it out and putting it back in may not serve any purpose.
Do you have a calendar, that can be set to send out notices on a scheduled date or time?
And check the message headers to be certain they're actually being sent from your account.

Collapse -
I had the same thing, try this yet?
by richholl / July 23, 2010 11:37 PM PDT
In reply to: Well, THAT didn't work

My Hotmail kept getting hammered while I was logged off AND my computer off. I ran IOBit Advanced System Care and the Glary Utilities to scan for "stuff". I found IOBit has something called Security 360 with both free and paid version. Got the free ran it and IT found five Trojans that the others did not. Not one incident since. Worth a try, CNET has a link for the Security 360.

Collapse -
Think it finally stopped
by joreill21 / July 19, 2010 12:59 PM PDT
In reply to: I'm deleting everyone

It was down to one address that I had missed deleting from my address book. Think that will do it.
Haven't heard a word from Comcast support since it started more than a month ago.

Collapse -
A Trick I learned along time ago
by Maljudges / July 23, 2010 2:28 PM PDT

Put yourself in your address book that way if any Malware or Spyware starts to use your e-mail address book you will get one to and then you can get Symantec to track them down. It works I got caught once and Symantec tracked the culprit and the police caught them.

Collapse -
Try this.
by bobo42813 / July 24, 2010 1:06 AM PDT


Try this. A.S.A.P. The first name you want in your email address book?

Is named MYOB, Email address 000000000000.

Don't laugh, this works.
GOD Bless Ya,

Collapse -
Address cure
by nosnojll / November 22, 2010 2:41 PM PST
In reply to: Try this.

I've been using this for over 5 years and it hasn't helped me AT ALL. It didn't stop my addresses from getting picked.

Collapse -
same problem w/aol
by Lynda Costello / August 30, 2011 4:15 AM PDT

Yesterday, when I was not online, spam was sent to most of my address book. Should all e-mail be deleted, address book deleted, and acct name changed?

Collapse -
It happens a lot
by Jamfan55 / August 30, 2011 7:45 AM PDT
In reply to: same problem w/aol

It's not in your computer, it's in your online email account. Someone has guessed your password and gotten into it. Change your password. That usually fixes it

Collapse -
by Lynda Costello / August 30, 2011 9:42 PM PDT
In reply to: It happens a lot

changed password yesterday and so far so good.

Collapse -
Yahoo! Mail Contact List hacked...
by mach37 / July 23, 2010 5:38 PM PDT

I had what I think is the same thing that happened to you, except it was my Yahoo! Mail Contact List that was hacked. If I understand correctly, that contact list is kept on Yahoo's servers, not on my computer. Normally I use Thunderbird and the address book that is on my home PC; the Yahoo! Mail list was a very abbreviated version of my full address book. I did not know of the hacking until one of my correspondents sent me the message he had received, which included the entire group of recipients of the spam (which was much as you described).

At first I thought my Thunderbird address book had been hacked, but not so. So this appears to me to be a problem of Yahoo's servers being hacked.

Incidentally, more than half the contact list contained inactive addresses, which generated bounce messages back to my Yahoo account, but they were directed to the Spam folder on my Yahoo web mail, which I only check every two weeks or so.

I immediately deleted all the contents of my Yahoo! Mail Contact List, and will NOT be using it again. Not that MY list would ever be broken into again. I informed Yahoo of the problem, but they seemed oblivious to the fact that it was their servers that had been hacked, not my computer.

Or do I have the wrong idea of what happened?

Collapse -
"Or do I have the wrong idea of what happened?"
by Jamfan55 / July 24, 2010 2:12 AM PDT

I doubt Yahoo was hacked. I think it's far more likely that you've unknowingly given someone access to your login information.
See my previous answers above.

Collapse -
Read this also...
by Jamfan55 / July 24, 2010 2:54 AM PDT
Collapse -
I don't give anyone access to my login info...
by mach37 / November 21, 2010 5:57 PM PST

I simply do NOT give anyone access to my Yahoo login information. I also never send group email messages; I just don't see how anyone could get my entire (former) Yahoo email contact list without hacking into wherever the contact list is stored.

Collapse -
Email addresses hacked
by persh83 / July 24, 2010 9:51 AM PDT

It happened to me and the Canadian Pharmacy was the destination of the link. This Pharmacy, BTW, seems legit.

I use Norton, called them and they did a "cleansing" for $99. It took 2 hrs and you must stay with them, messaging back and forth. I was initially given the choice of deleting my email contacts, password etc. which I did not want to do.

This worked perfectly. Not only that my computer, 18 mos old HP, now runs at far better speeds.

Collapse -
Yahoo!Mail Contact List Hacked
by imbunky2 / July 25, 2010 4:38 PM PDT

The same thing happened with my Yahoo!Mail contact list. The e-mails to my contacts came from a pharmaceutical co. These pharmaceutical solicitations had MY NAME AS THE SENDER. It was upsetting and embarrassing! However,I have complete Computer Protection (including repair home service). I was directed to change my password after I started receiving notifications that GROUPINGS of "my e-mails" were rejected. The e-mails to my contacts stopped. (I, also, tried contacting Yahoo, to no avail)!

Collapse -
more on my message of 7/2010
by mach37 / May 18, 2011 10:04 AM PDT

To detail some points in my report:
I had email addresses with Yahoo!, msn, hotmail & Gmail at the time my address list was hacked. Beyond the initial setup I never used msn or hotmail, at all, and only very rare use of Gmail. I use Thunderbird for email, only occasionally accessing my mail through a web browser, and maintain an address book in T-bird that has more addresses than either Yahoo! Contacts or Gmail's address book. I did not have a contact list in any other email service.

I thought my big address book in Thunderbird had been hacked, until a friend sent me the Full Header of the SPAM he received from "". The full header contained every address in my Yahoo! Contacts list, which was much smaller than Thunderbird's book, but larger than the Gmail contact list. This tells me that it was the Yahoo! site that was hacked. And NO, I do NOT share my password with anyone. Period. Therefore: it had to be Yahoo that got hacked, and not through any fault of mine.

Oh, lastly, I do use WiFi, but only at home in my residential neighborhood, and I use WPA-PSK2 encryption.

Collapse -
You are incorrect
by SongClouds / November 29, 2011 10:58 AM PST

Your account did get hacked. Not Yahoo, but your account on Yahoo. Most likely it was due to either a password with less than 8 characters or a weak password like a simple word or easy to guess string of letters or numbers. It could have also been easily accessed if you, like many users out there, use the same password for multiple sites.

To stop this, simply change your password and check your account security questions to ensure they are hard to guess. Also check to see what email addresses are set to be notified when your account password changes as some spammers have been known to add their email addresses to this list so that they are aware when a user discovers the hack.

Collapse -
I thought about this and wonder.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 29, 2011 11:01 AM PST

Let's say I got your

Let's say I wanted to yank your chain.

I'd go to and click on the forgot password and put in

The less seasoned user may think they are getting hacked.

Collapse -
I had the same thing happen
by cicada49 / July 24, 2010 1:17 AM PDT

with my MSN mail account (using Windows Live Mail). I also ran all sorts of scans that found nothing. What worked for me was deleting all contacts from MSN mail,changed password and I did not log into MSN mail for a month. I haven't had any Viagra messages going out since (boy did I have a bunch of upset relatives....)

Collapse -
E-mail hijacked and sending spam to Address Book friends
by blainrmeans / July 24, 2010 2:29 AM PDT

I personally would download the free version of Microsoft virus protection it works great, I don't have much faith in Norton. If that doesn't help try Spybot another free source. I those don't help then change your user name and password.

Collapse -
My Solution
by Guenillou / July 24, 2010 3:18 AM PDT

I had the very same thing happen to me! Here are the steps I took.
1. Ran full scans using AVG, Malwarebytes, Superantispyware and Spybot SD. They found nothing.
2. Deleted my Outlook Inbox, Sent folder and emptied the Delete folder.
3. Opened my MSN (Hotmail) account and changed my password.

So far, I have had no more instances and that was 2 months ago. I believe changing the PW was the key. I also believe that MSNs servers were hacked.

Collapse -
Use good passwords for your email accounts!
by Doh_1 / July 24, 2010 12:18 PM PDT

I recently had a Yahoo email account hacked, but Yahoo was smart enough to send me an email on an alternate email address (which is why it's a good thing to have one of those registered with your email provider) to tell me that my account password had been changed, to verify that I had changed it. Since I didn't change it, I immediately did that, and strengthened my password considerably.

There's too many people out there now with password cracking software that's very some articles on constructing strong passwords and follow through, and you'll have less of these problems.

There are even applications where you can store your various passwords under a master password, which gives you only one password that you have to remember *smile*.


Popular Forums
Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
Laptops 21,181 discussions
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
Phones 17,137 discussions
Security 31,287 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
Windows 10 2,657 discussions


Help, my PC with Windows 10 won't shut down properly

Since upgrading to Windows 10 my computer won't shut down properly. I use the menu button shutdown and the screen goes blank, but the system does not fully shut down. The only way to get it to shut down is to hold the physical power button down till it shuts down. Any suggestions?