A Simple E-mail Can be Used to Track Your Location

The fight over your data and privacy has never been more intense than it is today. Most people think about Facebook and other social media when you begin to talk about data privacy, but even a traditional email can reveal quite a lot about your whereabouts.

With web-mails, Gmail, and plugins, some marketers even take it a bit further. A Chrome extension called Streak not only let email senders register when a recipient opens an email, but it goes even a bit further. It also lets the sender register exactly who opened the email, and where the recipient is located.

Streak is a CRM (Customer Relation System) and the extension is just a small part of it, but it lets you see the recipients as red dots on a map and hence give the marketers a better sense of where their customers are located and if they have read their message.

This is by no means anything new as email tracking have been used for a long time by individuals, email marketers, spammers and phishers to gather information about where the recipients are located, validate the email addresses, if the emails are opened and how often, if they are forwarded and not the less if they made it through all the spam filters.

You would like to think that people can choose to not install Streak, but unfortunately life is not that simple. The marketers have other techniques at their disposal. The good news is that you with a bit of tweaking of your settings can make life a lot harder for those who want to track your email habits.

The first technique is that the sender can ask the recipient’s email to send a confirmation when the email has been opened. All serious email clients on the market will ask if you will let the sender know you have opened the email, you can, of course, deny the request.

Even better is to go to the settings or configuration of your email client and set it to never confirm the reception of an email or that it has been opened.

The other option for the marketers includes a link to a small invisible image that is located on a server that collects data for the sender. This gives the marketers the option to see when the email has been opened, where, on which type of device and so on. This technique is loved by spammers as it tells them which email addresses are actually in use, so if you let them see that you have opened their mails you will get even more spam.

To avoid the tracking, you can set up your email client to avoid showing images that are stored externally.  This will prevent the tracking about whether you have opened the emails.

With web-mails, it is a bit more complicated, but most popular and modern web-mails let you disable external content. Let’s take a look at how you set your email up to blocking external content.

IOS Mail

  1. Choose Settings
  2. Choose Mail, Contacts, and Calendars
  3. Toggle Load Remote Images to off

Outlook

  1. Click File | Options
  2. Click the Trust Center you find to the left
  3. At the right click on the Trust Center Settings button
  4. At the left click on the Automatic Download link
  5. Uncheck the top checkbox

Outlook.com

  1. Click on the Settings icon
  2. Choose More Email settings
  3. Under Junk Email chose Filters and Reporting
  4. Choose Block Attachments, pictures, and links for anyone not in my safe-senders list.

Apple’s Mail

  1. Choose Mail
  2. Choose Preferences
  3. Choose Viewing
  4. Uncheck Display remote images in HTML messages

Yahoo Mail

  1. Click on the Settings icon
  2. Choose Settings
  3. Choose Security
  4. Find Locate images in email
  5. Choose Never by Default

Gmail

  1. Click on the Settings icon
  2. Under the General tab
  3. Scroll down to the Images section
  4. Choose Ask before displaying external images
  5. Choose Save Changes

Android Gmail App

  1. Tap the menu button
  2. Choose Settings
  3. Tap on your email address
  4. Go to the bottom of the screen
  5. Choose Images
  6. Select Ask before showing

If you want extra security and improve your privacy do we suggest you use a VPN-connection as it will hide your location and protect your privacy while it keeps you safe. You can read more about VPN-connections here.

 

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