Let’s see how the effective collection of statistics is used to obtain your personal data and how to deal with it!

Looking through the email, you can stumble upon various advertising letters with offers from stores, requests to be surveyed, and others not particularly interesting for the usual user events. I bet you did not think that even the banal opening of such a letter cannot have the most pleasant consequences. In this article, we’ll talk about how this kind of “snooping” is organized, what information the letter’s sender can get about you, and where the information can be applied.

What is Pixel Tag

It is also known as Web Beacon, Web Bug, Tracking Bug, Tag, Web Tag, Page Tag, Tracking Pixel, Pixel, 1×1 GIF, and clear GIF!

Pixel Tag or Pixel Tracking is a one-pixel-sized image that is downloaded from a dedicated server. Thus, opening a letter containing such a tag, the browser automatically tries to load the picture by clicking on the link and leaving its “trace” on the third-party server. In turn, the server registers this transition by collecting the necessary data, even though the user did not even realize that some action had taken place. This pixel is made in such a way as to be the same color as the background or even transparent, so just so you find it, you are unlikely to succeed. It’s worth noting that these pixels are also widely used on websites to collect statistics on the user’s work with the resource.

Data that can be collected using Pixel Tag:

  • Registration of the opening of an email
  • How long did the user keep the email open
  • Information about the operating system
  • Information about the client you’re using, whether it’s a browser or a mail manager.
  • IP address;
  • E-mail
  • clicking on the links contained in the letter.

As you may have understood, the information is collected without the user’s knowledge, which may not be very pleasant in terms of privacy. Also, do not forget that such information can be used for the “good purposes” of large companies to improve the quality of their services and fall into the hands of those who want to use it for profit.

How Pixel Tag is used by large corporations

This is standard practice in modern analytics!

Large corporations that own large Internet platforms need to promote their products or services to existing. One of the ways of such “promotion” is to send promotional offers to its customers. Any self-respecting large organization has its own analytics department, the main task of collecting data in various areas of the company’s work. For advertising campaigns, strangely enough, it is necessary to know how one or another way of promotion is effective. To collect such analytical statistics on sent emails required a tool that will not create an extra load on the user in requests to click on the link and will automatically collect all the necessary information and send it to the company’s servers. To help the “advertisers” came the same “pixel tag.” It makes it easy to collect statistics of interest by certain proposals to analyze further the quality of services provided.

Pixel Tag may not be used for good intentions

The danger of the instrument depends on the hands he got into.

It is impossible not to agree that the collected information about the user without his knowledge can be used to improve the quality of services and for different “dark” cases. For example, the information collected about the fact that the letter was opened can be used in the future to form databases of active mailboxes and send a variety of spam to them or banal sale of this database to interested parties.

Also, don’t forget that Pixel Tag can help transfer your email and your IP address. So, if the attacker puts enough effort, he will find out the information about your location and, knowing your email, even find social networks, and with this data already your contacts and much more personal materials.

Pixel Tag can be fought

At least you can easily detect surveillance.

There are many different ways to deal with pixel tracking. For example, some anonymous browsers (such as Tor) do not allow such pixels to be downloaded. You can also use proxies or block the use of scripts in almost any browser, but don’t forget that this can break some of the functions of sites. The easiest way to combat surveillance can be to install a special extension that will identify and block attempts to send your data to third-party servers.

For example, the Ugly Email extension (similar to PixelBlock, Trocker, and Ghostery) can find tracking pixels in Gmail. You may start to notice the “eye” next to emails from some companies by installing it. This means that the company is eager to find out what actions with the letter you produce. Also, hovering over the new icon, the extension will tell you what kind of statistics collection service a company uses.