Browsers, E-mail, & Web Apps forum


SPAM sent to all my contacts from me

by Big Steve / October 22, 2011 4:53 AM PDT

I found out this morning that almost all of my contacts in my Yahoo email received an email claiming to have been sent from me but it wasn't, the email was from some Canadian pharmacy advertising sex drugs. Should I send an email to each one of my contacts telling them if they did get this email to ignore it because I didn't send it? How could this have happened?

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All Answers

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Re: SPAM sent to all my contacts from me
by Big Steve / October 22, 2011 9:24 AM PDT
Well someone, anyone, if I've posted my question above in the wrong forum advise me which forum is the correct one.
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It's a difficult one
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / October 24, 2011 9:50 PM PDT

and there really is no easy answer.

If your email account was hacked, then you should immediately change your email account password. Make the password difficult. For example, 1234, Pin number, names or dates of birth, don't work.

All my passwords are on the order of jK7Wds4eyIpl&d0DKj . I don't even pretend to be able to remember such passwords so have them written down securely and also use a secure password manager.

But the problem is, email address spoofing is easy for the spammers. They can send an email that "looks as if" it has come from any sender they choose. They can even send emails to you that looks as if they come from you. So if these spammers already have your email address there is nothing you can do about it.

Sure you can send everyone in your contacts list an email explaining the problem, but that won't solve the issue. Eventually it will die down.


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Re: It's a difficult one
by Big Steve / October 25, 2011 3:43 AM PDT
In reply to: It's a difficult one

I did change my password but not my email address and you are right, I did receive one of the emails and it looked like I had sent it to myself. Yahoo Mail issued a bulletin saying they were working on the problem but if it happens again I'll close my Yahoo email account. That password of yours, you write them all down in a notebook then refer to your notebook when you need the password? There is no way I would remember such a password. Do you store them on your computer under "MY DOCUMENTS" and label the document "MY PASSWORDS"?

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by MarkFlax Forum moderator / October 25, 2011 4:36 AM PDT

We all use what works best for us. My written record is a backup in case I lose the OS for any reason, I have backups of my password file itself, but the paper one is the definitive, as it were. No I never refer to it except to add or change passwords. The paper record is kept in a secure place under lock and key.

I use a password manager application. The application is password protected itself so I must remember that to open the application. Then I can just copy/paste as need be.Since it's an application it has its own folders. No, I don't label anything "Passwords" or "My Passwords". Prying eyes?

However, for services like email, I always use the 'remember my password' option, otherwise I would be logging in countless times during the day. I do the same for CNET, where little trouble can be caused other than nuisance value.

I would offer the password manager software but it is no longer available. Not a problem for me as the application is stand-alone, it doesn't connect to the internet, (my firewall ensures that as well), and it still works.

I'm not sure Yahoo Mail can be blamed here. Once your email account had been hacked, (and we're not even sure that's the case), then the contacts list was out in the wild and there was nothing Yahoo could do about that. However, perhaps I read your post wrong and you're not blaming Yahoo, but simply saying that you will close the Yahoo account. If so then it's a good idea because you can then email your contacts and tell them to ignore as spam any emails from that account.

It may not stop spam emails from being sent though. It goes like this;

I'm a spammer! (I'm not, just imagining). I have, somehow, got a lot of your contacts list. I will use that to send emails to them spoofed so that it looks like they came from you. I will send millions of emails a day, not just spoofed from you but with any number of real and fake 'sender email addresses'. They will be sent, not just to your contacts list, but to millions of other email addresses.

I use a computer algorithm to generate recipient email addresses. Why? Because so many of us use, (where are known email servers). What I mean is, none of us use completely random email account names, and so guesses are as likely to work as not.

I don't care if the majority of those emails I send fail to get results. Many will fail because the senders don't exist. Many will fail because the email providers intercept them. Many will fail because the recipient has their own Junk or Spam mail controls that simply delete the emails without them being opened or previewed.

But out of those millions, some will get through and will be either previewed or opened fully. I don't mind which as a preview is just as good as opened. Most of those will then be deleted, but I only need a few where the recipient reads the email and decides to take advantage of whatever I am advertising.

That's all I need, just a small %age of those millions to succeed for my business to be profitable.

Why don't I care if an email is just previewed? Well, I'm clever. In my email I have included an image which I have stored on my web server. When the email is opened, either preview or fully opened, the email software sends a request to the web server to download the image so it can be displayed in the email. Since the web server needs an IP address to send the image, I can use that to correlate with the millions of emails I sent to find which one was successful. I note that email address so I can send even more spam to it.

I am no longer the imaginary spammer. Happy

You can see how difficult this is. Once they have our email address from any source, it is very difficult to stop them using it. Anyone who contacts the spammer requesting to 'unsubscribe' or demanded to be removed from the list is just proof that the email address is genuine. They don't care.

All we can hope for is that a period of no response to their spam and they will do a 'cleanup' exercise eventually to remove useless addresses.

One other point. It may not have been your contacts list that was hacked. Think of this. Do you send emails to multiple recipients at the same time? If so, what if you included some other email contact who has already been hacked? The CC email information could then be passed on to the spammer.

Do you open "Round Robin" emails and then send them on to all your friends and relatives? What if one of those round robin emails was from a spammer?

It gets more complicated doesn't it.


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Re: Passwords.
by Big Steve / October 25, 2011 7:19 AM PDT
In reply to: Passwords.

Man, how long did it take you to type out that post? I thought I was long winded but to answer some of your questions when the incident happened Yahoo posted a memo similar to Twitter when Twitter is having problems. I only have about 15 contacts in my Yahoo email but a few are business types and I did not like it when it appeared to me they received emails from a Canadian pharmacy advertising sex drugs.

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Long winded
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / October 27, 2011 5:49 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: Passwords.

I'll keep them short from now on.

Previews. What do you use to manage your emails, email software or a web browser?

If a web browser then there may not be any Preview option. I don't know as I don't use web mail that much.

But in email software there is the option for emails in your Inbox listing to preview in a window 'under' the listing. As you highlight an email in the list, the preview of it displays. But in fact it is not a preview because it shows everything that you can normally see when you open the email to read it.

Where did I say I can access your Contacts List?

You store passwords where you see fit. I'm not about to tell you what you should or shouldn't do.


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Re: Long winded
by Big Steve / October 27, 2011 10:57 AM PDT
In reply to: Long winded

I guess I use a web browser. I was using IE8, switched to IE9 now I'm using Google Chrome. Why I use web based email is this, this laptop which I currently use was purchased for me to use by my brother who lives in another state and any day now he might decide to ask for it back and if he does I don't want him to be able to read any of my emails stored on this, his laptop computer, that's why I use Yahoo Email, Gmail and AT&T Webmail, all require login and password information. I have not activated whatever is on this computer which took the place of Outlook Express which is on my older computer which once he or some of his lieutenants got their hands on that other computer they could immediately open up and read all of my emails.

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written down passwords
by bassinbill42 / November 4, 2011 1:16 PM PDT
In reply to: Passwords.

My desktop crashed on me two months ago and thank God I printed out all my usernames and passwords before this happened. After getting another desktop computer, I scanned the list and saved it into excel and password protected it. Whew!

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That's great
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / November 4, 2011 9:24 PM PDT
In reply to: written down passwords

and as you say, backing up your passwords is absolutely necessary.

May I ask, that Excel file. Have you backed that up as well? If not, it would be a good idea.


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excel file backup
by bassinbill42 / November 5, 2011 10:05 AM PDT
In reply to: That's great

I have place that file on a usb thumb drive that is a Sauza Hornitos bottle shaped thumb drive.

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by mkrock / November 4, 2011 3:02 PM PDT

Canadian Viagra I bet. My cousin, another cousin using a work computer, a third cousin, and 3 friends have had the same thing happen to them. I've received the same email from them all(not really them) for a total of 6 times. Each time I received the email, I notified them about it. Each of the 6 contacted their ISP's, and email providers, and none of them were able to fix the problem. The only way they all could resolve the problem was to make a new email address for themselves.

Now fast forward one year. All but 1 of those 6 have not had re-accuring problems.
The 1 that has, has had the same thing happen to her twice in the past year, but they were not the Canadian pharmacy selling Viagra type of emails being sent out from her computer. Now they are for "I've made so much money on this, that I want to share this with you!" and there is always a link in the email to click on... but us wise ones no better 8-)

The gal that has had her computer compromised 3 times, has had to change her email address 3 times. Now, me being the type I am, I'm thinking that she has got to be clicking on links or visiting sites that maybe some of us might not do. She is a young gal (18) and she is curious, as we all were at one time, and she is also in school, so she is constantly looking up info on the net. Some how, some way, she is going some where that she shouldn't, or she is clicking on something she shouldn't... why else would she have the same thing happen to her 3 times?

I'm not saying that you did anything wrong... I'm not implying that at all.

Just be careful. One of the cousins, the one who used her work computer, eventually got locked out of it. The bug that was in her pc took complete control over it. (the Canadian Viagra emails)

Out of the 6 who had their pc's sending out spam, they used these email programs.
2 used Yahoo
2 used Gmail
2 used Hotmail

What do all of these have in common? They are all FREE email providers.

I'm a MSN fan and won't use any other email program. I also use MSN Explorer, which is ancient, but it doesn't get attacked (probably because hackers forgot about it... LOL) I don't get bugs, hacks, or spammed out, and for $60 bucks a year, I'll stay with it. I've been with MSN and MSN Explorer for 12 years and they have been good to me. Their tech people will work with you on any problem until it's fixed, and they won't give up. Maybe you should think about a different email program, and a different browser. Best of luck to you!

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How 2 use bcc 2 stop spamers using u
by travis41 / November 4, 2011 3:08 PM PDT

When fwding an email, erase the fwd or fwds on subject line {i.e. leave only subject words showing} next erase the email address of the person who sent it 2 u { I erase all addresses,so spammers who get back copies of fwded mails, cannot see their address} then enable bcc & use it instead of to line. Your mail will then b sent as undisclosed recipents,also if u have Avast A/V set mail shield to scan both inbound & outbound mail ALL expert settings should b set on high in Shields.

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How spam looks like it's from you & how to handle password
by PiezoSapphire / November 5, 2011 2:15 AM PDT

The spam either came from your account, in which case your account or PC has been compromised, or it was spoofed to look like your account.

How does it come from your account? If you got an email from a friend that said something like, "look at these cool pics of you" or similar, and you clicked on the link, you may have seen a login prompt that looked exactly like you would expect, so you put in your username and password. Bingo, They now have your password and send emails as you. That's the most common route but there are other ways that involve social engineering. (Social engineering wins over randomly trying passwords almost every time.)

If it just looks like it was from you, it could be that a friend's account, who has similar contacts, was compromised and the spammers randomly used your name as the from address.

If you can change your email password, do so immediately.

For saving passwords, I use two things. The first is Clipperz, a web-based password manager that also allows me to keep an archival copy if the server ever goes down. I record critical passwords (and those annoying personal questions sites now require), in that. Clipperz is almost zero knowledge. Record your Clipperz password on a piece of paper and put in the deposit box at the bank so your heirs can get into your accounts in case of your untimely demise.

I also used the paid version of LastPass, and have it on my three computers that I use routinely. That autofills most passwords, and it's available on the web if things get really bad. I have different, long, easy-to-remember-but-seemingly-random passwords for these two products.

Don't use the password manager built in your browser without setting a master password. Anybody who gets access to your hard drive (steals your computer and removes it) can read the passwords.

It's a myth that long, impossible to remember passwords are inherently more secure than other types of strong passwords. They actually tend to be less secure since people write them down and stick them to their computer. Instead, see how to create strong passwords for ideas. You can test your passwords on this Microsoft site. (Make sure the URL starts with

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All good advice.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / November 5, 2011 6:11 AM PDT

And well set out. Thank you.

I am intrigued by Microsoft's Password Testing page. I almost considered testing a couple of my passwords, but I held back. Not that I don't trust Microsoft at all, but.... inputting passwords into some 3rd party site? Hmm, not sure.


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Password checking done locally
by PiezoSapphire / November 5, 2011 7:19 AM PDT
In reply to: All good advice.

The site uses javascript to parse the string so all processing is done locally and nothing is sent over the Internet. The javascript file it uses is, but that may get stripped out of this forum. Basically, a password seems to get bonus points for variety of characters, length, and avoiding common password strings.

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Re: How spam looks like it's from you, handle password
by Big Steve / November 9, 2011 6:15 AM PST

This afternoon my AT&T webmail account got hit, I opened it up to find almost 40 "failure to deliver" email notices where it was made to appear that I had sent these 40 contacts an email from a Canadian pharmacy pushing male enhancement drugs, the same pharmacy that hit my Yahoo account earlier.

I changed my password on Yahoo so I guess I need to contact AT&T and have them change my password? Could "about blank" be causing this because it's still showing up on both of my computers? Would changing my email address stop this from happening again or not? If it keeps up I'm tempted to disconnect my email but if I did disconnect my email could these spam emails still go out as if I was the person sending them?

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Re: How spam looks like it's from you & ...................
by Big Steve / November 9, 2011 11:13 AM PST

Late this afternoon I did as you recommended, I contacted AT&T's DSL tech support and changed my email password to a much stronger one. The tech support guy for AT&T told me they would monitor my account through their servers to determine where these emails were coming from and block them if they try doing it again. AT&T did not recommend storing my passwords on my computer, since I'm the only one in the house, AT&T told me to write them down in a notebook and store them in my desk drawer instead.

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Clean Out That Computer!
by JCipo / November 10, 2011 11:27 PM PST

As long as you have malware and spy software on your computer, changing passwords is a waste of time. Get software and install it to remove these hostile programs. How did you get the stuff? Did you open an attachment in your email? Did you go to a website that could have compromised you? Did you download anything from such a site including music? I lived through this problem as well.

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Re: Clean Out That Computer!
by Big Steve / November 11, 2011 8:55 AM PST

What did you say? Clean out what? I have this installed on my computer, one of which isn't working that good, Avast AV. I also have SAS and Malwarebytes. I haven't been able to do a thorough scan or even a quick scan with Avast AV in months. When I start my Avast scans I come back 3 hours later and it says only 6% has been scanned so I abort those scans. I'm thinking about switching to a different AV.

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by bassinbill42 / November 11, 2011 11:17 PM PST

Clicking on a link from a friend's facebook page is going to get your computer in trouble. Also, without your knowledge, porn sites have trojan worms that can go undetected by Avast AV planted by unscrupulous people onto those sites. Your problem is not software but poor decisions on what you open up and sites you visit. I had this same problem 5 years ago which crashed my PC running windows 2000

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Re: passwords
by Big Steve / November 12, 2011 6:11 AM PST
In reply to: passwords
So I need to stop opening links posted by friends on Facebook and also stay away from sites like Holly Randall. If my McAfee Site Advisor glows bright green when I'm on a site like Holly that's no guarantee that the site is safe? So if my Avast AV is not detecting some of this should I switch to another AV software instead? I received an email from CNET Downloads earlier in the week saying that a newer version of AVG AV was out. Is AVG AV better than Avast AV? When your computer crashed 5 years ago did you also have problems with "About:blank"?
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by bassinbill42 / November 12, 2011 9:41 PM PST
In reply to: Re: passwords
Yes you need to stop opening links posted by friends on Facebook. An ounce of caution weighs more than a pound of cure, is my motto when surfing the net. Avast is good I have been using it for over two years and no problems at all. My wife, parents, former land lady and many other friends use it too without anything going wrong. When my comp. crashed 5 yrs ago I did not have "about:blank" issue come up.
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