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Email Harassment, Assessment Example

Pages: 1

Words: 966

Assessment

An email is made up of two distinct parts: the header and the body. Headers are viable information to law enforcement officers when it comes to hard copy evidence against a potential cyberstalker or harasser. The header of an email is often times hidden from a person so that the body of an email can be more easily read, but there is vital information in a header that could potentially help law enforcement in investigating cyber-harassment cases (Bocij, 2004, p. 197). One piece of information that is included in the header is what is known as an “email package” (p. 198). Along with the package, the date, time that the original message was sent is also in the header as well as “the route taken by the message on its journey to the recipient” (p. 198).

Whenever an email is sent out, there is encrypted information available in the header, therefore, it is important that stalking victims, or victims of cyber-harassment don’t destroy any emails, but print out hard copies so that this information can be used in order to “trace the offending communication” (Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office). Some mail services, however, “purposefully strip identifying information and transport headers from electronic mail” (Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office) thereby making this connection between harassment and perpetrator, difficult as it allows the perpetrator a level of anonymity, “If a cyber-stalker has used  an anonymous re-mailing service, the headers identifying the origin of the message will have been removed, making it almost impossible to identify the real email address or ISP” (Bocij, 2004, p. 198). A harasser or cyberstalker may also attempt to encode a message, or try to ensure that there are no digital fingerprints that could be traced back to them so they will tamper with the header information to “make it appear it came from another person, including the victim herself. Although this kind of tampering can sometimes be detected, it makes it difficult to identify cyberstalker’s real email address of ISP” (Bocij, 2004, p. 198).

Yahoo! Messenger is used by online predators to stalk potential victims. They do this by sending messages, videos, and pictures. Investigators have even witnessed cases of child pornography through Yahoo! Messenger (YM). Forensic analysis on YM can help investigations by helping with the following: “location of evidence that specifies file transfers, user connections (YPAGER.LOG), chat logs (when enabled), fragments of conversions within the swap file, message fragments in RAM, as well as other directly contacted user’s profile pictures (INDEX.INI)[2]” (Levendoski et al., 2011, p. 2). Forensic analysis in YM depends mostly on file structure of the website according to the platforms of Windows Vista and Windows 7. One great feature of YM for investigators is that it’s default setting for chats is that they’re automatically saved, thus, destruction of soft copy isn’t an issue. Email messages can also be set to default in which they are saved as well. Another element that is beneficial to forensic analysis and investigations for YM is that “For both Windows Vista and Windows 7, at the following location: \User\Software\Yahoo\Pager, an investigator can expect to find the Yahoo user id of the person using the account, the version of YM installed on the computer, all the revisions made to the YM version, if the save password option is turned on and also if the Auto sign in has been enabled (Levendoski et al., 2011, p. 5).Chat room categories by the predator can also be found through YM’s user profile thereby enabling investigator’s better chances at profiling and apprehension. Another key forensic analysis device that YM has is that User\Software\Yahoo\Pager\profiles\profile_name\FT gives investigators the “last saved location of a received file. It also gives the last sent location of a transferred file, that is, the location from where the last sent file was uploaded. This is important data when validating whether a user has been sharing or receiving files” (Levendoski et al., 2011, p. 5-6).

The cyber-exchange principle states that perpetrators leave a trace and therefore investigators should forensically examine computers for leads or digital fingerprints. This may make investigations a little more difficult as this expands a crime scene to more than one location: a computer with evidence on it may be located at one place, but there may be a site where child pornography takes place and this may be a little more difficult to locate. The problem with cyber-exchange principle is that although there is evidence in every criminal case, even cyber, it is difficult to find physical proof of the crime and to then tie that evidence to the perpetrator.

Invasion of privacy, cyber stalking, or cyber harassment can be dealt with through cyber prevention software that’s currently on the market today. One of the most common software packages available is Norton Anti Virus. This removes viruses from a computer and blocks potential threats to a person’s security/identity, etc. It’s also productive at keeping people away from social media scams and other online threats. Norton’s other features include protection from spear phishing (when a perpetrator sends someone an email meant to entice them into responding or buying or sending money to them or an agency in hopes that the person will give them their password). Norton software is great at protecting not only a person’s email but their computer as well. It does this through ensuring banking websites are properly logged off before shutting down the computer, that emails that are potential threats are put into a “blocked” folder, and that everything on the computer is up-to-date.

References

Bocij, P. (2013). Cyberstalking: harassment in the internet age and how to protect your Family. New York: Praeger Publishing.

Levendoski, M., Datar, T., Rogers, M. (2011). CERIAS tech report 2011-11. Yahoo messenger forensics on window vista and windows 7. Indiana: Purdue University.

Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office. (2013). Cyberstalking investigation and prevention. Retrieved from http://www.crime-research.org/library/Cyberstalking.htm

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