Mailing is arguably the oldest and most efficient form of communication in the corporate world. They are, however, vulnerable to malice. Phishing campaigns, spam and identity theft have all been crafted using emails. This is why email headers are important. Understanding them will help you and your business stay safe.
But what is an email header?
Email headers arespecialpieces of information that contain data that is key to the email’s delivery and identification. They contain data that is relevant to the entire transmission process of the email. The data includes from” and “to”, content, the browser used to write the email, the date of delivery as well as recipient information.
Here is an example of an email header
What are the different components of an email header?
An email header will have the following aspects
- MIME-version – Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) is an internet standard that converts non-text content like images and other attachments into text so they can be attached to an email.
- Date – It shows when the email was sent
- From – It shows the sender’s name and address
- To – It shows the receiver’s details. cc and bcc also appear here.
- Subject – This is the topic of the email
- User-agent – Shows the mail platform you are using
- Message-ID – A combination of unique characters that identifies each email
- X-Sender – This shows the address of the sender
- Content-type – It displays the type of content contained in the mail message.
How to view an email header
The information in an email header can be long and tricky to understand. However, you can access it at any time and interact with it to know what is happening.
We will look at how you can view an email header in Microsft Outlook and Gmail.
- How to view email header in Gmail
- Open the email for which you want to view the header
- Click on the menu, which is denoted by three dots next to the reply button.
- Click on ‘Show Original’ in the drop-down menu
- The email header will show in a new window. You have the option to download it
- How to view email header on Outlook
- Open the email you want to view the header details
- Click on ‘File’ then click on properties at the bottom of the window
- You will find the header information in the “Internet headers” section of the dialog box.
Why do you need email headers?
- Protection against spam
The header contains several information fields that help mail clients identify an email. The header information is analyzed to determine the email’s legitimacy and whether it should be delivered to the intended recipient. These protocols protect your mail account and personal data from spam and phishing attacks.
- Clarify sender/receiver information
Every email header contains the ‘From’and ‘To’ the ‘Subject’field and ‘Date’indicator, highlighting the time and date when the email was sent. Without this information, you wouldn’t be able to identify the email’s sender or receivers. This helps you determine the legitimacy of the email.
- Helps track the email’s route to your inbox
When a user sends an email, it originates in a sending server and travels through several Mail Transfer Agents (MTAs) before reaching the intended recipient. When an email passes through an MTA, it’s automatically “stamped” by the server with header lines like the recipient, date, and time of the email. This header information can help the recipient track the email route and check all the MTAs the email passed through to reach the recipient. This is useful when you’re trying to view message source details and track down the origin of malicious emails.
Even though most business owners undervalue the importance of email headers, it is important to take time to understand them and be opening them to evaluate your business’ most important emails. You never know when you will be targeted and without the scrutiny of the messages you receive, you will find yourself needing a lot of cash to cover losses resulting from careless data loss.