General Question

sacaver's avatar

Any way to discern whether an email has a sniffer embedded in it?

Asked by sacaver (433points) September 18th, 2008

Got an email that arived from a vendor. It has two 5 KB image files linked to it. There’s only one image I can see in the email (a company logo). The other may be a background? But I’m writing about those little, tiny (file size) image files that let someone know you’ve opened an email. Any way to find out if there’s one lurking in an email?

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2 Answers

EmpressPixie's avatar

I have no idea, but in college my professors sent a lot of emails with receipts. It always popped up to let you know that it was sending a read receipt and you didn’t have to open any files for it to work. It just did.

robmandu's avatar

The image itself isn’t a sniffer. The question is if the image is physically attached or not.

If not, it’s likely a url to get your client to download the image on the fly. If the url looks like it’s got some sort of uniquely identifiable string embedded in it, well, that’s how they’re gonna confirm your email address. That’s why most modern email clients (like gmail, or Outlook, or Mail) will prompt you to confirm whether they should download images.

What might a “uniquely identifiable string” look like? Almost anything. It might have your actual email visible in it. But usually not. It might be some long, random sequence of characters like 0FHKS82JKZZZ9FJDHSLK-3937JDJAH.

Of course, an attached image file might really be a trojan of some sort. I’m assuming you’ve got virus-checking software enabled on your email client to weed those out.

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