Gmail Email Investigation in Computer Forensics

MailXaminer | January 8th, 2020 | Forensics

Is your Gmail loaded with spam emails? Are you scared about losing your sensitive data getting hacked? Are you a victim of phishing attack? Then, bury all these mind-scratching worries! Here, in this blog, we will understand the tips and tricks to learn how to detect phishing emails with email investigation in computer forensics.

As we all know, Gmail is one of the primary email communication platform widely used for both personal and business level communication. Besides communicating with the end-users, it also allows to send documents, carrying out several types of transactions and much more. Gmail email client is easy-to-use in any electronic devices because it is not only compatible to operate with a computer system but other digital devices like mobile phones, laptops, tabs, etc. One of the major reasons users prefer using Gmail is because it is convenient to use anywhere with various digital devices via internet as it is a web-based email client.

In the world of internet, the term “Cybercrime” is well known as it has become a common phenomenon across the globe. Basically, it defines the illegitimate activities conducted through cyberspace on the computer or any other digital devices. In order to investigate crimes associated to emails, there comes the need of Gmail email investigation in computer forensics as to detect the cyberattacks. To be more precise, it refers to the analysis of email and content to identify the actual artefact.

How Hackers Work Behind to Grab Crucial Gmail Data?

Email protocols like SMTP, POP3, SMTP, etc. are secure and encrypted through various security extensions. However, cybercriminals are continuously finding ways to misuse it for illegal purposes. This can be done by sending spoofing emails, phishing emails, scam, spam emails, cyberbullying, etc. Besides propagating malware, worms, viruses, trojan horse, etc. to get the confidential information from the victim. Nowadays, the dependency on the internet has grown way beyond what it was 5-20 years ago, which give rise to increasing cyberattack instances. When we talk about email spoofing, it is a kind of terrorism that threats a person or property to the level of creating fear and obtaining money.

Let’s Check Out a Real-life Case Scenario Mentioned Below:

Poona Auto Ancillaries Pvt. Ltd., Pune Versus Punjab National Bank, HO New Delhi & Others

In 2013, it is one of the largest compensation which has been awarded after a legal verdict of a cybercrime. The IT secretary of Maharashtra Rajesh Aggarwal ordered PNB to pay Rs 45 lakh to the complainant Manmohan Singh Matharu, MD of Pune-based firm Poona Auto Ancillaries. This is because Matharu responded to a phishing email after which fraudster had transferred Rs 80.10 lakh from Matharu’s account in PNB. However, the bank was found to be careless to carry out proper security checks against fraud account opened which held to defrauding the complainant.

To deal with these types of situations, the government also took steps by introducing The Information Technology Act, 2000 which deals with the disputes related to Cybercrimes and electronic deputes.

Under Section 43 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 users can claim compensation and penalty for unauthorized access and damage, the introduction of a computer virus to a computer system and so on.

Before going further on how to recognize email scams and the approach to implement Gmail email investigation in computer forensics. Let’s have a quick glance at the email architecture in the below section.

Email Architecture in Computer Networks

An email never directly goes into the recipient’s mail server from the sender’s mail server. It actually passes through many servers. Multi-User Agent (MUA) is an email program which first read and compose an email from the sender’s client end. Then, Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) which receives the email from MUA that decodes header information of the email. It is mainly responsible for the receiving and sending the email. Message Delivery Agent (MDA) receives an email from MTA and finally sends it to the receiver’s MUA. With this, the email message can be seen at the recipient end. As a result, the “Email Header” consists of multiple server information, with the IP addresses thereby helping to investigate spam email in forensics.

How to Analyze Email Header Information of Gmail Application?

Gmail email investigation in computer forensics is used to analyze and obtain hidden pieces of evidence by examining the content and source of e-mail messages. It consists of three parts i.e., Envelop, Header and Body. Among these, “Email Header Information” is one of the most important element that helps to investigate cybercrimes.

Why Is It Important to Extract Information from Email Header?

Every email has its individual header part, which is not displayed to the user in the normal mode. It is a key to find spam email in Gmail. Anyone can check the email header, by following these steps on Gmail email application:

    • Open the email message.
    • Click on the drop down button.
  • Select Show Original option to view email header.

Gmail header plays a major role for email investigation in computer forensics by tracking the email and its sensitive information. Thus, on analysis of the email header, one can easily get the information about the sender and several networks related components.

What All Information Can be Obtained by Analyzing Gmail Email Header?

    • Received Lines: Unlike other elements of the email header, “Received” lines cannot be forged. It helps to spot fake Gmail email address by displaying the sender’s and receiver’s computer address.
    • ARC Seal: Authenticated Received Chain, an email authentication system works as an intermediate mail server, which is used to forward email with original authentication results.
    • Return Path: It is an email address specified by the sender. It can also be spoofed, if no authentication mechanism is applied.
    • MIME Version: MIME is Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions. It extends the email format to support text and non-text email attachments such as images, audios, videos, etc.
    • Message-ID: It is a globally unique identifier used for emails. Every email message has a unique Message-ID. It creates in a specific format that generates for each and specific email address and message.
    • DKIM Signatures: These are DomainKeys Identified Mail that confirms the authenticity of the sender by domain name connected with the email. It helps in reducing email spam and email phishing.
  • Received-SPF: It declares that the email is coming from a domain having some SPF record.

Still are you facing difficulty in examining the Gmail email header information to detect email spoofing in cyber security?

No need to worry!

Use Smart Utility to Identify Phishing Email in an Efficient Way

Email header plays a very crucial role for Gmail email investigation in computer forensics. But it is not that easy to detect as it seems. It needs depth knowledge about the components and requires strong skills to analyze the components. So, in order to determine these things, we highly recommend to use Computer forensic tool like MailXaminer. It is an advanced software, which efficiently helps forensics users to find out the sensitive information from the emails. With the help of this tool, one can easily understand the significance of each parameter individually and can easily detect manipulated emails.

What are the Highlighted Features of MailXaminer Software?

The Digital forensic MailXaminer is an all-rounder utility that comes with a result-oriented approach to implement Gmail email investigation in computer forensics. It provides a range of facilities to obtain evidence through email messages in a perfect way. Some of the remarkable features of the software are as follows:

    • Compatible with 20+ email file formats like PST, OST, MSG, MBOX, EDB, etc.
    • Supported 750+ MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension) types.
    • Capable to examine email data of 80+ Email Client applications.
    • Email analysis of Web-Based as well as desktop email services.
    • Support for various format image files such as DD, EO1, ZIP, DMG, LEF.
    • Examine Emails & attachments in different views.
    • Video analysis mode to analyze video attachments having obscene content.
    • A list of attachment/emails can find out by searching suspected keywords.
    • Bookmark” button is available to create a list of found evidence in emails/attachments or search results.
    • Export and case reports in different file formats like PDF, HTML, and CSV.
  • View and filter out emails with hash values SHA1, MD5, SHA256.

Let’s Conclude

With it comes to implement Gmail email investigation in computer forensics, most of the users fail to carry out the basics steps of analyzing email headers. By reading this blog, now it is easy to identify spoofed emails. Furthermore, users can take help of the professional MailXaminer tool that helps to fetch in-depth information of the Gmail email header without any hassle.