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Email 'Web Bugs'

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#1 mikey


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Posted 30 August 2011 - 09:51 AM

So, I wonder how many reading this use HTML mail instead of plain text. At a guess, I'd say 99.99% of you. If so, that means that likely 99.99% of you are generating your own spam problems.

Did you know that the use of 'web bugs' is an old technique but still a fav way for spammers to authenticate an addy as being live and in use. Did you know that all you have to do to give the spammer this knowledge about your addy is to simply open and view the spam mailing in HTML mode? Did you know that this authentication process will cause you to recieve hords of spam from then on?...not only from the origional spammer but also from those he sells his list of addies to?

So what is an email web bug?

Well, it's a very simple mechanism actually. It's usually an invisible image that is usually either clear or so small that you can't see it. However, I have seen the technique used in normal images too. The one thing that is always the same is that the image called from the spammers server also contains a unique sequence of characters in it's address that define it related to both the particular mailing and the particular addy sent to...yours.

So how do you avoid it? Simple; If you don't know where it came from, don't open it... or better yet, use plain text.

Now I'm wondering how many of you will still be doing things the same way tomorrow even after reading this. I'm guessing 99.99% of you.

#2 Freebird


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Posted 03 September 2011 - 01:48 PM

I use NoScript to block Web Bugs in general surfing and have not used HTML in emails for a long time. The only exceptions are from sites that I know and trust ( and there is very few of them :thumbup: )

Perhaps someone should write a simple, user-friendly security primer for beginners. Nothing too big and 'wordy'. Just the most necessary tips and trick to prevent the most common errors and bad practices that people employ that result in infection and spamming. Not a technical primer, just plain-english explanations and instructions that even numpties can understand - oooh!! and neat cartoons to illustrate it! :bounce:

We know the speed of light......but, whats the speed of dark? Steven Wright - Scientist and Comedian

#3 Budfred


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Posted 03 September 2011 - 02:23 PM

There are many such primers available... Most cover only some aspect of protection because there are so many that it is difficult to cover them all without taking a great deal of room... Our "So how did I get infected in the first place" article covers some, hopefully in plain English... Our SWI Community News covered a number of them in simple language... We have a few others and many other sites have some, including a number of different articles on Wikipedia... Unfortunately, some of the concepts cannot be explained in 3rd grade language and that is the standard for making information accessible to the majority of the population... Add to that reality the fact that the people who need it most are never likely to stumble across the information...

Helpful link: SpywareBlaster...

MS MVP 2006 and ASAP Member since 2004

Please read the Instructions for posting requested logs and the article "So how did I get infected in the first place?"

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