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  • Instant email notication by using a link

    You can tell when someone reads an email from you by
    putting a link in the email to something on your server.
    This gives you the IP address which may change.

    I was thinking of giving each client a file on the server
    so they are uniquely identified when they open an email.
    This eliminates having to request read receipts and lets you
    know that they recif(Dd a bill, notice of an update, etc.

    I currently use an IMG SRC = to a cgi program on a remote server that
    TCP's me of all hits. Is anyone else doing something like this?

    This works (if it gets past newer email scanners.)
    <img src = "http://www.myserver.com/cgi-bin/[email protected]" height="0" align="right">
    Last edited by Mike Doty; 13 May 2009, 02:04 PM.
    How long is an idea? Write it down.

  • #2
    One problem I can think of is that I currently have my e-mail program set to default to displaying text only. Even if I do view an HTML version of an e-mail (or the e-mail doesn't come with a plain text section), my e-mail program is set to only display what is included in the e-mail and not to go to any site on the internet to grab images or whatever.

    In my case, your IMG link would never cause my e-mail program to hit your server.
    Jeff Blakeney

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    • #3
      Thanks for the info. That sounds very secure.
      I think it will work for me because I'm only sending to my own clients.
      I'm going to modify my email program to automatically embed the
      IMG SRC line with the recipient email address.
      How long is an idea? Write it down.

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      • #4
        Mike,

        I would be extremely careful doing this. It could be construed as a violation of Title 18 U.S.C. Section 1030 which prohibits accessing protected computers without permission..
        Sr. Software Development Engineer and Sr. Information Security Analyst,
        CEH, Digital Forensic Examiner

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Thomas Tierney View Post
          I would be extremely careful doing this. It could be construed as a violation of Title 18 U.S.C. Section 1030 which prohibits accessing protected computers without permission..
          Not only the above is an important aspect to consider, also the trick won't work for all mail clients. The better ones (Open Source, such as Thunderbird) do object to visit a link. Depending on your personal client configuration you will be prompted to accept visiting an external address.

          Cheers,
          Albert
          „Let the machine do the dirty work.“
          The Elements of Programming Style, Brian W. Kernighan, P. J. Plauger 1978

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Mike Doty View Post
            This works (if it gets past newer email scanners.)
            <img src = "http://www.myserver.com/cgi-bin/[email protected]" height="0" align="right">
            Your mailing program could create a simple database mapping the email addresses to some random keys (or an MD5 hash of the email). You could then include something like:

            <img src = "http://www.myserver.com/cgi-bin/Notify.exe?u=e9hf8943hf98hfn98" height="1" width="1" align="right">

            and the CGI app could then map the u= parameter to the address.

            I would also suggest actually delivering an image that is at least 1 pixel in size as many email and security scanning systems do scan for web beacons (images with zero size).
            Bernard Ertl
            InterPlan Systems

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            • #7
              This is a terrible idea and any (company) admin worth his wage will intercept such things and consequently blacklist you.

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              • #8
                I guess I'm confused...

                While knowing if someone is opening an email is great if you're sending out advertising, why would you want to use it as a "read-receipt"?

                Believe it or not, I know people that still use PINE (why?):confused2:, so the only way to be sure that you have people opening mail is if they actually come to your server to open it.

                Using pictures or such to track is inherently unreliable.

                In all my years of using email to market my own products and services, the most important factor in determining if an email gets opened is the "From" name and email. If I see an email from Bob Zale (a trusted source) I'll open it. An email from Joe Schmuckatelli probably not.

                So your clients most likely already open your emails. If you want to spot check, give them something free to download (always include funny pictures, etc)

                Just my $0.03 (inflation)

                JS
                John,
                --------------------------------
                John Strasser
                Phone: 480 - 273 - 8798

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