At this point you probably know that browsing the web leaves you ready to accept Email Tracking Blocker, website operators and advertisers. But less well-known is that you can be tracked just by opening an e-mail. Merely clicking or tapping to open a message can transmit to the sender not only that you opened it, but also where you were when you did so and also on what device, among other things.
The technology has been utilized by email marketers and Nigerian fraudsters for over a decade. But more recently, it is now a tool employed by employers, sales people, bill collectors, lawyers, political candidates, nonprofit fund-raisers and maybe additionally that guy you met in a bar and regrettably gave your contact info to.
Here’s how it works: The sender of the email embeds a so-called web bug or pixel tracker in to the content in the message or even inside an attached PDF, Word or PowerPoint. These bugs are 1-by-1 pixel images (tinier than tiny), that are invisible to the recipient. Once the email or document is opened, the bug triggers your device to contact the sender’s server and convey all sorts of information.
“What it will is lure you into an online environment and also the collection that continues on there without alerting you that it’s happening,” said Ryan Calo, a professor of law in the University of Washington Law School in Seattle who focuses on privacy issues.
There are some things that can be done to avoid getting your email activity monitored. Perhaps the easiest defense is to adjust the settings of the email program so there is no image rendering.
It used to be set that way by default but last year, in a boon to marketers, Gmail made the setting an opt-out feature and lots of other email providers followed suit. Disabling images will sift and block images from incoming emails, including those tiny, pixel-size tracking bugs. It is possible to click on the missing images you want to see and the ones that you don’t.
“A more technical method is to build an individual firewall that blocks images,” said Gerald Friedland, director of audio and multimedia research at the International Computer Science Institute in the University of California, Berkeley.
Or, he stated, you could simply shut off your Wi-Fi while opening and reading email messages. This, obviously, assumes you aren’t checking your email on your own provider’s website but instead using a retrieval program like Apple Mail or Outlook.
And don’t simply click any attachment while connected, nor a link within the message, even when it’s the unsubscribe button. “The unsubscribe link is easily the most clicked item in emails so it’s often the things they use to follow you,” said H.D. Moore, a senior researcher using the Internet security consultant Rapid7. “As soon as you click on it, they understand everything about you.”
>Besides when, where and on what device you opened your message, a message sender can also tell how much time you considered your message and when you opened other windows while you had the message displayed. Also transmitted ezdaho should you saved, forwarded or deleted your message, how many times you subsequently opened the message plus various information regarding your device’s os and settings
>Besides when, where and also on what device you opened the message, a message sender may also tell just how long you looked at your message and if you opened other windows as you had the content displayed. Also transmitted is that if you saved, forwarded or deleted your message, how frequently you subsequently opened the message plus various information about your device’s os and settings.