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Determining physical location of the sender?

Posted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 9:19 pm
by Bluenose
Hello

I understand that in an email header it is possible to locate the geographical position of the mail server, or postman, who has sent me an email (my own is in Seattle, for instance - Microsoft Hotmail mail servers).

But how would I go a step further and trace the physical location of the computer that actually dispatched the email to me? I don't especially want, or need, to know the physical locations of the originating computer(s) - most of my emails are from people I know and I know where they are geographically located anyway - but I am technically curious and would like to know how it is done.

Is special software required or is the original location determined through Command Prompt, etc?

Thanks!

Bluenose

Re: Determining physical location of the sender?

Posted: Mon Feb 29, 2016 6:44 pm
by nielsencl1
Good question. If the email software that sent you the message includes the sender's IP address, it's possible that is their machine. That IP can be looked up and location information may be available. If not, the service provider should be identified and that can provide information or you can get a court order and make the service provider tell you who used that IP address.

Another option is to send an image or other file located on a web server you have access to the person you are trying to locate. If you can get the person to look at the image or download the file, the web server should have a record of the IP address they used. If they are using a proxy server then that won't work. But if you can get them to download something that can then report what IP address it is running on, THAT will work.

What you are asking about is not simple, but it is possible. It will also depend on how smart and careful the person is that you are trying to locate.

Re: Determining physical location of the sender?

Posted: Mon Mar 07, 2016 5:45 pm
by Bluenose
Hello

Thanks for your reply.

If I send an email to someone and they check the IP address under Headers, it shows an address in Seattle when, in fact, I am not only thousands of miles away but it would take 12 hours on a flight from Seattle to my nearest airport. That's because I use a Microsoft email and their mail servers are in Washington state.

Yes, it is technically possible - it's how the police locate the origin of unsavoury emails - but I just don't know how to do it.

Thanks again!

Re: Determining physical location of the sender?

Posted: Tue Mar 08, 2016 2:09 am
by lisati
The email tracing page, which can be found here: http://whatismyipaddress.com/trace-email , will help you get started.

Re: Determining physical location of the sender?

Posted: Tue Mar 08, 2016 6:28 am
by Bluenose
Hello Lisati

Thanks for your reply.

I have just opened the headers of someone who sent me a message yesterday - a Hotmail account.

I can see: Authentication-Results: hotmail.com; spf=pass (sender IP is 157.00.2.95;

(I have changed a couple of digits) but posted the real address in the link you kindly sent me and got the following:

Error: This line does not appear to be a valid e-mail header field

Any advice?

Thanks!