We have in the past received reports of unsolicited email that appears to have come from the University of Edinburgh.
It is very common for the people who send unsolicited email, or "spam", to forge the "from" address in the emails that they send.
If you have received such a message it is very possible that it did not actually originate from any individual associated with The University of Edinburgh, and has not been handled in any way by any of the systems or machines within the University.
Please do not hesitate to contact us regarding any such message.
Unfortunately it is possible to make an email message appear to have come from just about anywhere.
If you really want to find where a message has come from, it is possible to trace the path across the internet that the message has taken from its sender to you.
Email messages do not travel directly from the sender's computer to your desktop - they're passed between mail servers, with each stage of this path being recorded.
Each email message you receive will have its path displayed in the message headers - you may need to explicitly ask your email program to show full message headers to see these.
The message headers will contain a series of lines beginning with the word "Received", which trace the path of the message. The most recent stages are added at the top of the list. For example:
Received: from haymarket.ed.ac.uk (haymarket.ed.ac.uk [126.96.36.199]) by holyrood.ed.ac.uk (8.8.7/8.8.7) with ESMTP id OAA17423 for <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Tue, 21 Nov 2000 14:55:45 GMT Received: from gath.kw.bbc.co.uk (gateh.kw.bbc.co.uk [188.8.131.52]) by haymarket.ed.ac.uk (8.8.7/8.8.7) with ESMTP id OAA10480 for <email@example.com>; Tue, 21 Nov 2000 14:55:44 GMT Received: from w1bhxi4.radio.bbc.co.uk ([10.48.8.68]) by gath.kw.bbc.co.uk (8.9.3/8.9.3) with ESMTP id OAB21432 for <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Tue, 21 Nov 2000 14:55:43 GMT Received: from w1bhxi1.radio.bbc.co.uk (unverified) by w1bhxi4.radio.bbc.co.uk (Content Technologies SMTPRS 4.1.5) with ESMTP id <T0a30084450041f39ba@w1bhxi4.radio.bbc.co.uk>; Tue, 21 Nov 2000 14:55:38 +0000 Received: by w1bhxi1.radio.bbc.co.uk with Internet Mail Service (5.5.2448.0) id <XK9ZYN5P>; Tue, 21 Nov 2000 14:55:38 -0000
Here the message, which was sent from within the BBC, has passed through three servers within the BBC's mail system before being received at Edinburgh University by a machine named haymarket.ed.ac.uk which passed it on for delivery.
By examining the Received headers you can check this path.
Unfortunately, even message headers cannot be relied on completely - the first step can often be faked to disguise the true origination of a message.
This article was published on Aug 19, 2009