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What is the Reason behind "Chain" emails

Posted on 2009-04-11
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Last Modified: 2013-11-05
Hello all!

As an expert here, this is always something that has perplexed me.
    What is the reason behind  "Chain" emails?

You know thoes emails that say: "Forward this to three friends"
Or:  "AOL will donate 32c to Charity "x", everytime this email is forwarded."
Or: "Forward this to 5 friends and you will have good luck"

What I mean is that a person who creates a virus can monitor the media outlets to see the "attention" that their Virus is getting.
A Hacker can simply can easily see if the site he targeted is taken down because of a DOS attack.
Even a spammer can monitor the results of Email Blasts, by how many they send out, versus how many they get back.

But what's in it for the people who send "chain" emails?
As far as I know, there is no way for them to track how "Successful" thier email is, or how many times it has been forwarded. (so why even bother?)
Or is there a way to track this??
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Question by:Jeffrey Coachman
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brandonvmoore earned 334 total points
ID: 24124187
A lot of hackers would hack into a corporate site soley for the purpose of getting on the news.  If it got on the news then it's notch in their belt.  The chain email is the same idea.  There are lots of chain emails that are now 'well known' chain emails that most everyone who has had an email address in the past few years has gotten at some point.  The point is to try to make a chain email so successful that you can see it's successful w/o even needing to track it.

Now give me my point fool! Haha, just kidding :)
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by:jhyiesla
jhyiesla earned 166 total points
ID: 24124329
If the email has no link in it or comes with no attachments, then there's no hacker reason for them.  Most that I've gotten seem free of any kind of exploit or spyware so I assume that it's mostly for stupid reasons; some kiddie reason.

Not sure that there's any way to monitor what happens after the original email is generated without attracting lots of attention in the security world, so would assume that if there is some threat buried in the email it's probably just to see if people are stupid enough to open it or click on the link.  Of course if there's an embedded link, there could be almost anything buried behind it.   Took a white-hat hacker class once and the instructor took us to his web site which is a legitimate site where he sells things.  There is also a hacker backdoor that he uses to keep his hands in the hacker world.  Anyway, there were a couple of links that were labeled as nude pictures of two famous women.  Clicking on one started Solitaire on our computers and clicking on the other one rebooted our computers.   So I suppose that it could be a low-key way to spread whatever...  but I"m guessing that most are either just harmless or scams trying to get that handful of idiots that click on anything to click on some embedded link.

Why would someone start a chain email that's just a harmless chain email... suppose it's there 15 minutes of fame.
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by:brandonvmoore
brandonvmoore earned 334 total points
ID: 24124359
Just FYI, it is possible to track emails depending on what type of client the email is opened from.  A common trick is to put a single pixel picture in the email that is stored on a server somewhere.  Every time the email is opened up it has to retreive that picture and sends a request to the server.  A lot of advertisements work this way.
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by:Jeffrey Coachman
ID: 31569250
Thanks!

;-)

Jeff
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