RealNews

E-mail Spoofers Target Arab Activists

Arab-American activist Nawar Shora checked his e-mail one day and found scores of angry messages asking why he hated Americans and Jews. The messages were responding to e-mails marked as coming from him. Only one big problem: Shora never sent the hate mail. SHORA, A LEGAL ADVISER to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, was the victim of a new form of harassment in which fake e-mail is sent using real addresses. By exploiting the simplicity and openness of the Internet’s mail protocols, unidentified provocateurs have been sending incendiary messages posing as Shora and other Arab-Americans. The tactic, known as e-mail spoofing, requires little technical know-how and no illegal computer break-ins. Yet it has caused a lot of trouble — wasting time, damaging reputations and even leading to the suspension of e-mail accounts. “One was a long, detailed essay about how evil Jewish people are and how we have to kill them all. (Another said) America deserved what it got as if we were a branch of al-Qaida,” Shora said. “In the times we live in, those are all dangerous. There’s already a negative sentiment against Arab-Americans.” NOT GENERALLY ILLEGAL E-mail can easily be spoofed by tweaking settings on standard e-mail software. Several Web sites even automate the process by creating Web-based forms for sending fake e-mail. It’s analogous to putting someone else down as the return address on letters dropped in the corner mailbox. Full Story

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