A former associate of Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s says he has emails that prove that Mark Zuckerberg swindled him back in 2004.
Facebook, meanwhile, says the former associate is a “scam artist” and that the emails are “fake.”
And that raises an interesting question:
How hard is it to create fake emails?
We’ve put this question to a number of folks now. And now we’d like to put it to all of you.
The answer obviously depends on what level of “email” you are trying to fake. For example:
- A printed email, with none of the digital meta-data attached
- A forwarded email, with all of the meta-data attached (headers and footers) but without access to the sender or recipient’s email box or hard drive
- An actual digital email, resident in the sender or recipient’s email box, with full access to the local hard drive (or cloud storage drive or wherever the email is stored).
It’s obviously trivial to produce a print-out of an “email” that says whatever you want it to say, with whatever FROM, TO, and DATE information you want. So we can skip that one.
But how hard is it to fake the electronic versions?
For example, how hard is it to fire up an old computer that you haven’t used for a while and create a fake email that you appeared to have “sent” to someone on, say, December 24th 2004, and then create a fake “reply” from that person two days later at 2:51 in the afternoon?
If it’s relatively easy to create these fake emails and insert them into your email box, how hard would it be for an investigator to figure out that the emails were fake? Could the investigator tell from the meta-data attached to the emails that they were fake? If the meta-data can be easily faked, but the investigator had access to your hard drive, could he or she figure it out from any key strokes or other data stored on your hard drive (or cloud drive)?
We talked to one engineer yesterday who said that faking the emails and meta-data is easy. The engineer even said that, given enough money and time, it’s possible to make the fraud undetectable by carefully manipulating records stored on the hard drive.
A corporate attorney who has watched the FBI analyse seized hard drives, however, maintained that the FBI’s investigators are almost impossible to fool (or at least appear to be).
So, what’s the answer, folks?
Is it easy to fake emails?
Is it possible that the guy who says he owns 50% of Facebook has created fake emails that cannot be demonstrated to be fake, even electronically? Or if Facebook’s investigators got ahold of his email box and hard drive, would they be able to spot any fraudulent manipulations?
Weigh in below, and we’ll put the best responses in the “Board Room” section.