Skip to main content

New technique unmasks anonymous email senders

anonymous-emailResearchers at Concordia University have developed a reliable technique for revealing the identity of anonymous email senders, reports the Concordia Journal. In fact, the method is so reliable, it can be used to provide evidence in courts of law.

“In the past few years, we’ve seen an alarming increase in the number of cybercrimes involving anonymous emails,” the study’s co-author Benjamin Fung, a Concordia professor of Information Systems and Engineering, tells the Concordia Journal. “These emails can transmit threats or child pornography, facilitate communications between criminals or carry viruses.”

The technique was first developed based on the need of police departments to be able to identify who wrote a particular email sent from an IP address used by multiple people. Fung and his team aimed to develop a technique which was reliable enough that it could be used in official investigations.

So how does it work?

First, analysts must identify patterns in emails written by a particular subject, like the suspect in a police investigation, for example. They must then narrow down the patterns to those that are unique to the subject, and discard those patterns that are duplicated by other suspects.

These unique patterns have been dubbed a “write-print,” and are said to be as distinctive as a fingerprint, and are the key to identifying the exact author of a particular email.

“Let’s say the anonymous email contains typos or grammatical mistakes, or is written entirely in lowercase letters,” says Fung. “We use those special characteristics to create a write-print. Using this method, we can even determine with a high degree of accuracy who wrote a given email, and infer the gender, nationality and education level of the author.”

Fung and his team tested the technique on a batch of 100 emails taken from the roughly 200,000 emails written by 158 real-life Enron employees. The team used 10 emails for 10 different people, and were able to identify the correct email author with 80 to 90 percent accuracy.

Perhaps now would be a good time for the hacktivists at Anonymous to stop writing all those press releases. Just a thought.

Editors' Recommendations

Andrew Couts
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Features Editor for Digital Trends, Andrew Couts covers a wide swath of consumer technology topics, with particular focus on…
Samsung’s MacBook alternative is up to $700 off today
The Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Pro against a textured grey backdrop.

If you like the idea of the MacBook Air but don't own any other Apple products or don't want to be in the Apple ecosystem, then we're happy to inform you that there are some great alternatives. One example is the Galaxy Book4, which is equally thin and light and can still pack a punch when it comes to processing power. Even better, you can get it for much cheaper than the usual $900 since you get a direct $200 discount that brings it down to $700, plus you can get up to $508 of trade-in credit. So, you could potentially get it for as low as $192, assuming you get the best trade-in value.

Why you should buy the Galaxy Book4
At just 0.61-inch of thickness, the Galaxy Book4 comes pretty close to the thin size of the MacBook Air, so it's a very portable device, which is impressive since it comes with a larger 15.6-inch screen. Granted, the screen runs at an FHD resolution, which is a bit lower than the MacBook Air, but at that screen size, the difference isn't that big. Luckily, the keyboard is great to type on, and you can expect up to 15 hours of battery life, which is pretty good too.

Read more
Samsung is having a sale on huge gaming monitors — up to $1,000 off
Samsung Odyssey Ark in cockpit mode.

If you're the type of person who likes to have the best gear for their gaming setup, then one of the best upgrades you can do is getting yourself a massive ultra-wide monitor that adds another layer of immersion. Some of these monitors are truly behemoths, and they have a price tag to match, but luckily Samsung is running a great sale on large gaming monitors right now with some significant savings. Samsung makes some of the best monitors on the market, so you're in good hands if you decide to grab one. However, if you'd still like something different, check out these other great monitor deals.
49-inch Odyssey OLED G9 -- $1,200, was $1,800
 

If you're looking for an ultra-widescreen, then the Samsung Odyssey OLED G9 is the perfect option because it's chock full of great features. Besides the absolutely gorgeous OLED display, it runs a 2k resolution that can hit a whopping 240Hz refresh rate; you'll likely need one of the best GPUs to run it. It also has a low response time of 0.03ms GTG, as well as support for HDR10+ and coverage of 99% of the DCI color gamut. You can even split it into dual QHD monitors if you need to get work done and require two screens, so it's a very versatile monitor.

Read more
The Windows transition to Arm just found its missing puzzle piece
The new Surface Pro on a table.

The Windows transition to Arm has pushed forward at an impressive clip, with many of the most significant apps having built Arm64 versions. But there's been one major holdout, even up until Microsoft's recent Copilot+ announcement.

A little app called Slack.

Read more