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Author Topic:   email tracking programs
redruger
Single Celled Newbie

Posts: 1
From:
Registered: Aug 2002

posted August 15, 2002 12:57     Click Here to See the Profile for redruger     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Has anyone ever heard of guardpuppy or self-destruct email? This program seems to track the exact location of the user opening an email using this software. Is there a way to mask your identity and protect your privacy when someone uses these programs? Thanks in advance

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Steen
BlabberMouth, the Next Generation.

Posts: 1475
From: Maryville, TN, USA
Registered: Jan 2000

posted August 16, 2002 12:14     Click Here to See the Profile for Steen   Click Here to Email Steen     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Guardpuppy is a monitoring application that only monitors what you do on your computer if you install it there. It's useful for determining what others do on your computer, but doesn't send information about what emails you have or haven't read to other computers.

The self destructing email is just a simplistic application of what's commonly known as a 'web bug' ... a tiny graphic file which is displayed by the HTML in the email when you open it. The HTML points to a unique reference on a server that was only given in your email. The server makes the assumption that anyone viewing that graphic has opened the mail and read it. Any email client that blocks/ignores HTML requests for graphics will defeat the measure and protect your privacy.

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QuiGonValjean
Newbie

Posts: 6
From: Coruscant, France
Registered: Jul 2002

posted August 17, 2002 05:36     Click Here to See the Profile for QuiGonValjean     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wait a minute -- so are you saying a guardpuppy program has to be installed on the users computer in order to be able to destroy the email? For instance, a company would install these on company computers to protect sensitive information? Or -- are you saying the email links to a certain image on a remote server, and after the image has been accessed once, it is erased? Hmm...that still doesn't make sense...Or does the image contain the content of the email? That would work. Help me out here!

------------------
Long live the Performa.

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Steen
BlabberMouth, the Next Generation.

Posts: 1475
From: Maryville, TN, USA
Registered: Jan 2000

posted August 17, 2002 22:25     Click Here to See the Profile for Steen   Click Here to Email Steen     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm saying that guardpuppy doesn't have anything to do with what redruger is talking about. It's a logging program that tracks everything done on the computer it's installed on. It has nothing to do with notifying someone emailing you that the email has been read.

"Self destructing email" is basically a really stupid name for a mildly clever invasion of privacy. Nothing self destructs or gets erased. All that happens is, when you send your email, you send it to their server instead of to the actual recipient. Their server adds some HTML at the end of the message which tells an HTML enabled email client like outlook to connect to their server and download an image. The actual image is typically a 1x1 white gif with the color set to be transparent so that it doesn't show. The actual image is referenced with a session-id like URL which is something I'm not going to explain here, but suffice to say every mail gets a unique URL generated for it. When their server detects the access of the image by the unique URL, it logs the message as having been read and notifies the original sender of the fact.

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QuiGonValjean
Newbie

Posts: 6
From: Coruscant, France
Registered: Jul 2002

posted August 18, 2002 11:03     Click Here to See the Profile for QuiGonValjean     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Aha. That makes sense. However, I have still heard of email that have the capability of deleting themselves. Is that really possible?

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Steen
BlabberMouth, the Next Generation.

Posts: 1475
From: Maryville, TN, USA
Registered: Jan 2000

posted August 19, 2002 09:50     Click Here to See the Profile for Steen   Click Here to Email Steen     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not really. If the email was in the form of an executable of some sort that you ran, the executable could put the message on the screen and then delete itself, but nobody in their right mind would run a random executable that they recieved by email. The closest you'd get to email that actually self destructs would be some sort of message delivery through a web site where, once the message has been read once, the message is deleted from the system. That would still be vulnerable to simple screen captures and/or copying and pasting the text into another program to save it.

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uilleann
Highlie

Posts: 710
From: St Albans, Herts, England
Registered: Apr 2002

posted August 19, 2002 15:19     Click Here to See the Profile for uilleann   Click Here to Email uilleann     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Some time ago, I heard or read that Outlook Express for Windows can be scripted using incoming e-mails, and presumably with that method, it would be possible. However, that would limit you to Win OE users even then.

- uilleann

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Lex
Super Geek

Posts: 234
From: University of Florida
Registered: Jul 2001

posted August 19, 2002 18:03     Click Here to See the Profile for Lex   Click Here to Email Lex     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Outlook would probably take those too. But then, Outlook and OE are the primary targets of e-mail viruses because of their vulnerabilities. Despite this, hundreds of thousands and probably millions of people use these clients and don't know or care about the problem. Most don't even notice it when their computers are infected with a few minor viruses. Something that specifically targets these clients might as well be trying to find middle-aged white men in the suburbs.

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