Reverse Email Lookup

The following is for informational purposes only

Email Tracing

Email Tracing

The volume of emails sent and received daily in the U.S. is high: around 306.4 billion per day. This number is rapidly climbing and is expected to reach 347.3 billion by 2023. It is estimated that more than half of all emails received are spam.

When email volume is too high for email users to keep up with, security can slip, and fraud becomes a more common occurrence. Email users need to be careful and savvy in navigating the messages in their inboxes.

What is Email Tracing?

What is Email Tracing?

Email tracing is a means of learning more about where an email came from. When you receive an email, you see the recipient's name, the email address, and the date and time it was sent. While this information is helpful, it is often not enough to accurately discern whether the email is valid and useful or intended to compromise your cybersecurity in any way. This is when email tracing can be beneficial. Email tracing provides valuable additional information about the origins of the email, including:

  • Reply-To Address: this is the email address your response would go to. It can be the same as the sender's email, or different, depending on how the sender sets it up.
  • From: Email tracing allows you to see who the email is genuinely from, not just the display name from the From field.
  • Content-type: this explains what character sets are used in the email.
  • “To” Field: lists all intended recipients of the email, and emails with large recipient lists are more likely to be spam.
  • DKIM-Signature: this refers to DomainKeys Identified Mail, and it helps authenticate the domain that sent the email.
  • Received: this lists all servers that the email travels through before landing in your inbox.
  • Authentication-Results: this lists the authentication checks carried out by the email server and sometimes contain more than one authentication method.
  • Received-SPF: this stands for the Sender Policy Framework. It is part of the email authentication process that stops or prevents sender address forgery.
  • Return-Path: this refers to the location where non-send or bounce messages end up.
  • ARC-Authentication-Results: The Authenticated Receive Chain is another authentication standard; ARC verifies the identities of the email intermediaries and servers that forward your message to its final destination.
  • ARC-Message-Signature / ARC-Seal: Like DKIM, this signature takes a snapshot of the message header information for validation. The ARC-Seal finalizes the ARC authentication results and the message signature.
  • X-Google-Smtp-Source: this shows the email transferring using a Gmail SMTP server.
  • Delivered-To: this details the final recipient of the email.
When is Email Tracing Helpful?

While it can seem like an overwhelming amount of information, cybersecurity experts are used to looking at this type of data. After a little practice, regular email users can learn to pick out the most pertinent information to their concerns.

When is Email Tracing Helpful?

Email tracing helps when you receive emails that are somewhat suspicious but could end up being valid. Phishing and malware are common risks, and scammers are getting savvier and savvier to keep people clicking on fraudulent links contained in junk email. Sometimes a quick scan of the readily available information in an email message is not enough to confidently say whether an email is valid. This is when email tracing can help by providing additional information to assess.

How to Trace an Email

How to Trace an Email

There are multiple ways to trace emails. One way is to view an email's full header. For Gmail emails, open the email you want to trace, select the drop-down menu in the top-right corner, and select "show original" from the menu. There are slight variations for other email services, but an easy online search can help you find step-by-step instructions. By analyzing data in the email's full header, you can find out from which IP address an email came in, which can help determine an accurate geographic location. This can be very helpful as many international scammers exist, and they often use U.S. company names to try and get you to click their links. To analyze data, email recipients can use several analyzer tools, such as MX Toolbox Email Header Analyzer. There are also services that allow you to trace an email's origin from the sender's address. These services are nice options for those that prefer to trace emails without digging into more complex email header information. Reverse email lookups for email tracing can be free or can require a small fee.

It is becoming harder to avoid email scams. Due to rapidly changing technologies, educating yourself about current scams and signs of fraud is very important. Email tracing is a helpful process for learning more about the emails you receive so you can navigate your inbox knowing that your cybersecurity is intact.

Reverse Email Lookup