• Status: Solved
  • Priority: Medium
  • Security: Public
  • Views: 1420
  • Last Modified:

Cn ayou track whether an email message was forwarded?

Is it possible with ANY email program to track whether or not  a message you sent to someone was then forwarded on?  If so, how is it done and what are the requirements?


Thanks
0
DanRaposo
Asked:
DanRaposo
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2
  • +1
1 Solution
 
qwaleteeCommented:
No.  There is no direct way to track this.  The only thing you could try to do is include a unique "mail bug" in the message, and try to track who opens the message.  However, even that is doomed to failure:

1) you can't tell form the web bug who opened themessage... whether the original user or another
2) if the user opened the message from two different PCs with two IP addresses, you would get the misimpression that two different people looked at it and assume it is forwarded -- false positive
3) if a user forwarded the message without opening it, you would oinly see the forwarded opening -- false negative
3) if there is a proxy, you might see a single user opening the message twice as two users (false postive), or see two different users opening it as a single user (false negative)
4) if you send to multiple recipients, you have to maintain a matching count, plus some people may dlete the message without reaidng it, leaving you to possibly miss (fals enegaitve) a couple of forwards

and so on, you get the picture

So what else can you do? You can use one of the secure sending services.  To read the message, the user has to log in to a web site.  You can monitor the logins.
0
 
saroshjmistryCommented:
Not possible, unless you hack the forwarders computer.
0
 
SysExpertCommented:
I agree.

No easy way to do this unless you KNOW what the client email program is.

This would be possible in a Notes to Notes environment, if the email did not go through the internet  - ie, was sent via Notes messenging only through a defined Connection between Notes servers.
 
I hope this helps !

0
Prepare for your VMware VCP6-DCV exam.

Josh Coen and Jason Langer have prepared the latest edition of VCP study guide. Both authors have been working in the IT field for more than a decade, and both hold VMware certifications. This 163-page guide covers all 10 of the exam blueprint sections.

 
DanRaposoAuthor Commented:
Hmmm ... well it appears that it is being done somehow to us.    A Defense publication sent an email after a user forwarded copyrighted material to other members of his group.   The user then received a message stating the offense.  

The Publication is legit as was the complaint email.  I can not figure out yet how they did this.  I wanted to make sure there as nothing wrong with our side.
We are using Notes with DAMO so the recipients client is Outlook.  

If no one else chimes in then I will split the points between you all for your quick and helpful responses.

Thank You.
0
 
SysExpertCommented:
Maybe they have some way of getting a universal return receipt that works on all clients.

I can not think of any way to implement this easily, but it may be possible.

Also, if their is a link ( URL ) that is accessed, then that may be an easy way to get info on the user.

I hope this helps !

0
 
qwaleteeCommented:
Sounds like they were using a web bug, possibly with a script that sets/uses a cookie. They can now tell if it was opened on two different PCs.  They might accept it if one sending resulted in two or three machines, but send you notices if many people read the same original.

A wbe bug is a tiny invisible image loaded from a remote web site.  Say I have an image generator at http://webbug.com/

I send a message, for each message, I append a unique number, like http://webbug.com/000001 http://webbug.com/000002

Now, every time the first user opens the message, my web bug site generates a single pixel invisible GIF (it requires less than 1k transmission), and I can record in my database that it was user #000001 that opened it,  Ditto user #2.

Let's say I use a client script inbstead of a hard-coded <IMG> tag to get the web bug.  Now, isntead of just including the user ID or message ID, I can grab something else fomr the user's computer.  For example, if I use some JS to check if there is a cookie with a certain name, and if not, generate a random number and assign it to the cookie, I can then include that in the web bug request.  now, the web bug in http://webbug.com/000001/313. If I run it again on the same computer, the cookie is already there, so it stays /313\.  But if I go to another computer, then the cookie is not set, so it generates a new random cookie, say 144.  The webbug on that computer will be http://webbug.com/000001/144

As long as all 000001 wbe bug requests end in /313, it knows msg #000001 is always coming form the same computer.  A soon as it gets 000001/144, it knows it was oepned on a second computer.  Which may be legit for a user who has a couple of computers.  But if it gets a dozen different endings for 000001, then it is a safe bet that this was shared with a few other people.

There are issues with setting this up, such as cross-site scripting.  And it probably would not work on a Notes client with its limited JS integration to the mail client document renderer. And it could also be blocked if the user read it off-line.  You can look at teh source and probably figure it out, or put on a protocol analyzer and track web requests when the message is opened, or if you use a web proxy server, just check its logs.
0
 
saroshjmistryCommented:
A possible simpler explanation to this. The message must have been forwarded, there'd be record of where it originated, till it got into the "wrong" (or should it be "right"?) hands.
0
 
DanRaposoAuthor Commented:
Saroshjmistry,

can you explain further?   How would the originator know it was forwarded if it was only forwarded within the company?
0
 
saroshjmistryCommented:
I can only think of 2 possibilities : a bug  or  is there a chance it could get out of the group & onto the net inadvertantly?
0
 
DanRaposoAuthor Commented:
Look like this was it.
0

Featured Post

How to Use the Help Bell

Need to boost the visibility of your question for solutions? Use the Experts Exchange Help Bell to confirm priority levels and contact subject-matter experts for question attention.  Check out this how-to article for more information.

  • 3
  • 3
  • 2
  • +1
Tackle projects and never again get stuck behind a technical roadblock.
Join Now