XFOR: How to Obtain Additional Information from Internet Mail or Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail

This article was previously published under Q257538
This article has been archived. It is offered "as is" and will no longer be updated.
In e-mail client software, Internet mail and unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE) in an Exchange Server recipient's mailbox may be displayed without the recipient's display name or Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) address in the To line. Instead, the To line is either blank, or it contains other recipients' names or the address of an external distribution list. The From line may also contain incorrect information, or it may be missing information.

This article explains how to view the Request for Comments (RFC) 821 portion of the Internet mail message to obtain information that is not displayed in e-mail client software.
Each Internet mail message contains two portions: the RFC 821 portion (sometimes called the P1 header) and the RFC 822 portion (sometimes called the P2 body). When e-mail client software receives Internet messages, you can only view the RFC 822 portion in the e-mail client software. Although the RFC 822 portion contains a To and From field that the client uses, these fields technically do not need to be correct because they are not used to route SMTP messages.

Therefore, in junk e-mail (or "spam" e-mail), UCE, and outside e-mail that is made to falsely appear to come from an authorized user (or "spoofed" e-mail), addresses in the To and From fields are often replaced with incorrect information or are missing. The data that is used to direct the message to the recipient is actually contained in the RFC 821 portion of the SMTP message, which is further explained below.

A common problem can occur if a recipient has multiple SMTP addresses and the recipient wants to unsubscribe from a junk e-mail mailing list. You may find it difficult to determine which SMTP address to use to unsubscribe the recipient from the sender, because the subscribed address is not displayed in the message. You can only determine the SMTP address if you perform a network trace or enable SMTP protocol logging to examine the RFC 821 portions of SMTP traffic.

To determine the e-mail address that was used to route a message to a recipient, or to gather more information about a spoofed message, search the SMTP protocol logs:
  1. Make sure that SMTP protocol logging is enabled. If the message was delivered when logging was disabled, you must enable logging and wait until the next occurrence of the unwanted message. To enable SMTP protocol logging:
    1. Open the Internet Mail Service properties, and then click the Diagnostics Logging tab.
    2. Under Category, click SMTP Protocol Log, and then click Maximum.
    3. Click Apply to apply the changes, and then restart the Internet Mail Service.
  2. As soon as the message arrives, stop the Internet Mail Service.
  3. Move all of the SMTP protocol log files (*.log) from the Exchsrvr\Imcdata\Log folder to a new folder of your choice.
  4. Restart the Internet Mail Service.
  5. Perform text searches on all of the .log files that you moved by matching strings from the offending message with text in the files. (You can facilitate this by performing an advanced find on the folder to which you moved the .log files and using the Containing Text field.)
  6. If you used advanced find, at least one log file that contains text from the message should be displayed in the output window. Open the log file or files and find the message that contains the matched text. From the matched text, scroll up until you see the first occurrence of the word "DATA." This point marks the end of the RFC 821 portion of the message and the beginning of the RFC 822 portion of the message.
The RFC 821 portion of the message contains at least the following fields and commands:
  • MAIL FROM. This field specifies the SMTP address of the originator or SMTP forwarding host.
  • RCPT TO. This field specifies the SMTP address that was used to deliver the message to the recipient.
  • DATA. This command indicates the end of the P1 portion of the message.
For more information about generating junk e-mail and spoof e-mail messages, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
199051 In Exchange, incoming SMTP messages are missing information in the To field, the From field, or the Subject field
It is safe to delete the log files when you stop the Internet Mail Service. To prevent disk space from running out, periodically stop the Internet Mail Service and remove the .log files, or disable SMTP protocol logging altogether.

Article ID: 257538 - Last Review: 10/20/2013 18:23:10 - Revision: 4.1

  • Microsoft Exchange Server 5.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 Standard Edition
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