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A relative told me that he received an email from me this morning, that arrived in his spam folder. He opened it and apparently there was some porn related things inside. Obviously, I didn't send this email, and it doesn't appear in my sent message.

What also surprised me is that apparently, another of my contacts was also in CC, even though these 2 persons know each other and probably have each other's email in their contact list.

Sadly I don't know more about the email itself, if it was my real address that was used or simply something like "John Doe <spam@email.com>"

My email (@icloud.com) is only setup in the Mail app of my Mac and iPhone. When reading my mails from a browser, I have 2-step authentication activated, so I can't have been hacked.

I'm not familiar with this kind of spam, so I have a few questions:

  • Could it be sent from my Mac? I had the (perhaps wrong) idea that Mac were less prone to this kind of annoyance than Windows computer.
  • If not my Mac, then could it possibly be my iPhone?
  • Is there an efficient way to protect yourself against this kind of spam? I already have an antivirus installed on my Mac, and I make sure never to install anything from untrusted source.
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    I would check haveibeenpwned.com . Allows you to see if your email has been in a recent hack or breech. – JBis Mar 20 '18 at 12:10
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It is unlikely either your Mac or iPhone was used to send the e-mail. Regrettably it is difficult to protect yourself from this problem.

See Receiving spam from myself for a related question and answers about this subject. For a more technical overview, start with this spoof email search of the StackExchange network.

Spoofed E-mails

How Spammers Spoof Your Email Address (and How to Protect Yourself) – article from LifeHacks in 2014 helps explain the sitation:

Most of us know spam when we see it, but seeing a strange email from a friend—or worse, from ourselves—in our inbox is pretty disconcerting. If you've seen an email that looks like it's from a friend, it doesn't mean they've been hacked. Spammers spoof those addresses all the time, and it's not hard to do. Here's how they do it, and how you can protect yourself.

Spammers have been spoofing email addresses for a long time. Years ago, they used to get contact lists from malware-infected PCs. Today's data thieves choose their targets carefully, and phish them with messages that look like they came from friends, trustworthy sources, or even their own account.

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    Thanks Graham. Indeed, I've been reading a bit since I posted and found this interesting answer too. The problem is indeed similar. I'll check this article from LifeHacks! I guess I can't have been hacked, due to 2FA, and I don't think there's a virus on my computer. I'll try to know more about this email, the time it has been sent could tell me if it was indeed from my computer or not (looks like it was sent when I was sleeping). – peter Mar 20 '18 at 10:11
  • If you can obtain the e-mail, the raw headers would be useful in better understanding its origin. – Graham Miln Mar 20 '18 at 12:13
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If your email address is visible anywhere on the internet then this will happen. Search on google to verify if that it's out there. Email addresses are harvested for the purposes of spam.

That said, given that you are taking good security precautions — especially 2STEP — it is most likely that one your contacts address books were compromised in some way and this is the result. If your address was in their address book, then it's now available to be used as a "from" address in spam.

Annoying as it is, it's best not to worry about it.

  • Thanks Matt. No, I checked already and it's not visible. I use this email address only for private/professional purpose or for important email registration, on websites I trust. For the rest, I have a disposable email. I also thought that it could be one of my contacts who could be infected, since at least both the recipients of that email know each other. – peter Mar 20 '18 at 10:06
  • I think it's pretty certain it's one of your contacts that has been compromised. Either their OS or they themselves slipped up. – Matt Sephton Mar 20 '18 at 10:08
  • One of these contact is my grand mother. She's a beginner user, and uses both a Windows computer and an old Android tablet. And I know she and her friends send each other a lot of these annoying PPT and PPS mails that already visited millions of countries... I'll take a look at it! – peter Mar 20 '18 at 10:26

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