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What Is This Technology Called?


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9 replies to this topic

#1 Force7

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Posted 04 June 2010 - 12:12 PM

Hi,

I just had an interesting call from a company trying to sell us an email list to spam / advertise to potential clients. I actually usually run when I get these calls but this one gave me a bit of an education to things I did not realize existed and wanted someone to shed light on how they do this as well as finding out if there is an above board ways to use this technology?

He said they could get customers related to our industry, of course this was proprietary information, but after I got off the phone I went to a website he mentioned they owned. I only went to the home page then closed the web browser. About 5 minutes later I received an email spam related to the website, example Arizona Immigaration 2010.com , then suddenly I get an email entitled Arizona Immigration Lawsuits trying to get a class action suit going. Soooo they must be extracting my email when I visit a site. I did not know they could do that but obviously they can although I am not sure how or what it is called.


He claimed that they can tell if a person just looks at an email they have sent, even if they do not take any action.


Based on the two things above I could see where looking into this type of information would be helpful for our mail campaigns to our customers as well as see who is visiting our website and would be interested in our industry. I am all about ethics and hate spam, in fact I am probably more guilty of not contacting even customers that say we can but learning how it all works is important.

Thanks in advance!

Edited by Force7, 04 June 2010 - 01:43 PM.


#2 Michael Martinez

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Posted 04 June 2010 - 04:52 PM

If you enter your email address in your browser when you set it up (I think Microsoft still prompts people to do this), Websites can query the browser to get that information.

But there are more nefarious ways of poking around a visitor's computer to find email information.

Based on what you tell us, it's impossible to know what they did but one need not assume anything than the the benign browser inquiry occurred.

Unless you don't enter your personal information into your browser.

#3 chrishirst

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 04:04 AM

No browsers store the users email address or make it available via an interface that can be read by web technilogies. Not even MS are that arrogant to assume that would be a "good thing".

QUOTE
I just had an interesting call from a company trying to sell us an email list to spam / advertise to potential clients.
Of course they do.

Why do you think websites have newsletter signups etc (directories are among the worst culprits) OR a "Check this box if you do not want us to share your contact detail with our marketing partners"

Have you never filled in any "online surveys"? I do on a regular basis and create an email alias for each one (advantage of running your own mail servers biggrin.gif). Within a few days that email address will be BOMBARDED with credit card offers, "Had an accident"?, "reclaim your bank charges", Car insurance deals and tons of other wonderful offers.



They SELL these mailing lists and verified ones are worth MUCH more. A few years ago an email address list made over a million dollars in sales.

Every thing I sign up for "on-line" has an email alias that I can drop at anytime once it is compromised and you would be suprised at some of the "reputable" places where your details are sold/given to less than reputable marketers.
I used to maintain a list of places where clients and friends should NEVER use their real email address.
I kept my own email address junk free for almost NINE years using this tactic until a "well meaning friend" "recommended" me at some "Joke a day" email site.

How do they verify the address exists and is live?

embedded images that get requested when the message is opened, web bugs. An unsubscribe link (You may think you are telling them to stop but you just verified you exist.)

Edited by chrishirst, 05 June 2010 - 04:15 AM.


#4 Jill

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 08:15 AM

Clicking links from emails are different than just visiting the site. Their email links are likely set up with a special tracking code so they know who clicked and who didn't. They can also tell who opened the email by a similar method. A specific image that opens.

Most good email list hosts have this ability. I use ListHost.net and I can do all that.

#5 Force7

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 09:10 AM

That clears up the 'how they figured out the email was opened', so now I will probably just view it through the Outlook previewer to make sure it is not a legitimate email from a customer. I certainly do not want to feed the Spam monster.

I have been doing this a while so I know a lot of the tactics like surveys and unsubscribe, this one I missed though.


QUOTE
Have you never filled in any "online surveys"? I do on a regular basis and create an email alias for each one (advantage of running your own mail servers ). Within a few days that email address will be BOMBARDED with credit card offers, "Had an accident"?, "reclaim your bank charges", Car insurance deals and tons of other wonderful offers.


See that was the mystery, I agree with everything you said, but this was simply a visit to the website. Could be a coincidence, I will find another computer and do some tests.

Thanks for helping!

#6 piskie

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 07:23 PM

Chris, I am not doubting you, heavens forbid, but how certain are you that the auto complete feature can't leak out by some security hole in some browser versions ??

#7 chrishirst

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 11:47 AM

The methods (talking programming now) that access the auto-complete data structures are not accessible via any public interface in any browser.
Even when writing native code that spawns a child process of IE these methods are not accessible, you have to write hooks into the various DLLs to create a access point, which puts it way beyond the scope javascript.

These type of "features" are proprietary to each of the browser engine builders and are NOT part of the DOM that makes for (in theory) cross-browser compatible code.

So for any kind of "email sniffing" code to work in browsers it would have be something that has been specified by the W3c as part of the DOM.

It can of course be done by planting a .exe file on the machine that can trawl through the registry but that's a different thing entirely.




#8 piskie

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 01:42 PM

Thanks Chris, I was sure you would know, now we all do.

#9 Michael Martinez

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 02:35 AM

QUOTE(chrishirst @ Jun 5 2010, 02:04 AM) View Post
No browsers store the users email address or make it available via an interface that can be read by web technilogies. Not even MS are that arrogant to assume that would be a "good thing".


I guess that died with Netscape 4.


#10 chrishirst

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 06:24 PM

Yeah they started to figure out the Internet wasn't quite the same as the civilised world of ARPANet biggrin.gif




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