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How To Trace An Ip Address

1548 words - 7 pages

Theory...
Email messages, as in the case of their non-electronic cousins, have "envelopes" of a sort. In the case of email the envelope is composed of a series of "Headers". These are just a series of lines of characters which precede the actual email message. Email programs such as Outlook do not normally display these Headers when displaying a message. From these Headers however, the email program is able to extract important information about the message, such as the message encoding method, the creation date, the message subject, the sender and receiver, etc.

Moreover, just as a postal envelope contains an address, a return address and the cancellation stamp of the post ...view middle of the document...

As you can see on these pictures, a Header consists of two sections separated by a colon ":". The first part is the Header's name. The second is the Header's data. In the case of postal mail, in principle, it is possible to write any kind of information (c/o, suite or apartment number, etc.) into the address information. Similarly email Headers can include any kind of information also. Usually however, an email Header will contain at least the following basic Header information:

Header Name Header Data Sample
To: The name and email address of the recipient To: "John Doe"
From: The name and email address of the sender From: "Alice Smith"
Date: Date the message was created Date: 1 Nov 2004 22:49:20 -0000
Subject: The subject of the message which follows the Headers Subject: How are you?
Return-Path: The email address for responding to the message Return-Path:
Received: Delivery stamp Received: from [67.66.123.205]
by web41013.mail.yahoo.com via HTTP; Sun, 25 Apr 2004 23:13:34 PDT

In some cases, a number of these Headers may not be necessary.
To determine the address of origin, special attention must be paid to the 'Received:' Headers. These Headers are selected on our screenshot illustration. 'Received' Headers have the following format:

Received: from [computer name and/or IP address from sender]
by [server name] (maybe Internet protocol too); date.

Sample:
Received: from [67.66.123.205]
by web41013.mail.yahoo.com via HTTP; Sun, 25 Apr 2004 23:13:34 PDT

Briefly this means that the server web41013.mail.yahoo.com received the message from the IP address 67.66.123.205 on the 25th of April 2004, at 11:13:34 pm PDT via the HTTP protocol (i.e. through the web).

So, we have observed, it is from the 'Received' Header that we retrieve the IP address or domain name. Using this IP address, Active Whois is able to look up additional information such as associated postal and email addresses. You can easily select and copy the IP address from the Outlook Internet Headers box by using CTRL-C to place it on the clipboard.

We are faced with an additional problem however. Email messages frequently contain more than one 'Received' Headers. How can we know which of these several Headers contains the originating IP address belonging to the sender? 'Received' Headers are appended to the front of the email message as it travels through the internet to your email inbox. The flow diagram below will show you how these 'Received' Headers are appended to the message as we travel backwards from the receiver to the sender:

The Recipient's mailbox receives his message from his POP3 or webmail server. No new 'Received' Header is added at this stage. Headers from the top of Headers sequence:
The Recipient's email server (POP3, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.) receives the email message from the original sender's server. (e.g....

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