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Email - Did you know this about email?

White Fox

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Email and spam


I posted a question on the Thunderbird (Mozilla/Firefox) email help forum the other day. They are good over there and will answer pretty much any question and help folks out no matter how minor or major the problem. Well, their answer to that question led right into another area.


I have always heard that if you open and read a spam email, that info is sent back to the poster, that tells them that you have read it. Thus... opening the door for them to send you much more. The reply by Thunderbird personnel seemed to deny that, stating that emails are open as soon as you receive them on your computer. So, I asked the question and this is the reply that I got.


Part of the reason for asking the question was this. I have had my business email posted on many, multiple addresses on the internet for years with almost no spam replies. Yes, some do come, but generally two or three a day for three or four days. Then nothing for days. And the same cycle again. I am obviously doing something right as my email is on the net in scores of places, and I was wondering what it was. I am NOT saying the time won't come when I have to change. I AM saying I am being successful at delaying that time.


The reply seems to show the superiority of Thunderbird - the email equivalent of Firefox.


Just thought some folks here might like to see it. Looks like if you are having email spam problems, that a new email address and switching to Thunderbird is at least a big step in the right direction. While avoiding the loss of messages that can be attributed directly to anti spam programs that can cause high loss of messages due to very aggressive filtering.


The sender of any message can request a return receipt. Spammers do not generally use this, because they would have to reveal their own e-mail address. They sometimes include a remote image on a web server, and the web server tracks requests for the image. Thunderbird normally blocks remote images for this reason.


Messages can contain code that is set to run automatically when you display the message or when you click on something. Thunderbird does not normally run this code.


If you click on a link in a message, then Thunderbird assumes you know what you are doing, and does not warn you that the web server might be tracking requests. Clicking links is a privacy risk.


If you try to open an attachment then the protection that Thunderbird can provide is more limited, because Thunderbird cannot predict what action your operating system and other applications might take. Opening attachments is a possible security risk.


By the way, if you delete a message in Thunderbird, it remains in the folder until you compact the folder. While it remains in the folder it is completely inactive. It is no risk to either privacy or security.


See also: http://kb.mozillazine.org/Privacy_basics_-_Thunderbird


Just thought you folks might like to see the info above.



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They sometimes include a remote image on a web server, and the web server tracks requests for the image.


Messages can contain code that is set to run automatically when you display the message or when you click on something.



Yes, these are called "beacons."

They hide images inside e-mails using coded URLs. Those URLs are linked to each e-mail address to which a spam message is sent.

If the recipient opens the message or displays it in the preview window, that image is retrieved from the server. The second that image is requested, BAM! They know you have received the spam message. Once they know that their computer programs will log you as being a "live" address and you will receive more and more spam.

They can also hide little bits of Javascript code and things like that in the message. When that code runs, they know they've got a live address.


The best way to stop spam is to do nothing. Ignore it. Trash it. Do not respond. Do not let them know they have contacted a live address. If they figure they don't have a live address they will give up and move on to greener pastures.


Spam filters and all those things that people advertise to block spam are all well and good but they can never be the end-all. It really comes down to the user having common sense an not doing things that encourage spammers.


Here's some good info on stopping spam:


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Ever hear of the "ping of death?" If I was just a little more knowledgeable (meaning having the knowledge of being able to send it without being caught) I would love to fry all of their servers . . .

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