Perhaps you should be leery of some Gmail email users. A new free plugin lets Gmail users know when an email they sent is open – without the recipient even knowing.
Called Streak, the plugin can even enable users to track recipients to their physical locations, Daily Mail writer Victoria Woollaston discovered. Streak is currently being sold to sales and marketing professionals by a small San Francisco firm of the same name.
“Meanwhile, tests carried out by PJ Vogt from OnTheMedia located the reader of his email to within about five minutes of their exact location in New York,” Woollaston wrote.
How Streak Might Work
A blogger, Vogt stumbled across the plug-in by accident and discovered that it operates much like a Trojan computer virus. It hides in the email and sends out signals that allow for tracking.
Significantly, Vogt and others have not been able to determine exactly how Streak works. Woollaston thinks it might work by adding a small image to emails that is actually a program that asks the recipient’s email program to reveal the IP address. Streak can then track the recipient via the IP.
Anybody can download Streak and track up to 200 emails. There is a fee for tracking more. What’s also disturbing is that Streak is being sold as a “Customer Relationship Manager” when it is really a spy tool.
What Streak Can Do
Here’s what we know Streak can do:
- Let a recipient whenever an email is read.
- Tell a recipient how many times an email is read.
- Reveal the recipient’s name to the sender.
- Tell the sender what kind of device a recipient is reading the email on (mobile, etc.).
- Track stories and keywords in the email.
- Install tracking software in the inbox that can track emails sent from it.
- Find a person’s general location. A Streak user might not find your address but could discover what city or neighborhood you are in.
The Streak website boasts: “Get notified the very moment one of your recipients reads your email. If you’re a sales pro, follow up on the phone with potential customers as soon as they start reading the email collateral you sent them. … Streak email tracking shows the status of all your tracked emails right in your inbox. You’ll see a green or gray ‘eye’ icon right next to any email in any inbox list telling you whether the email is being read or not.”
We don’t know enough about Streak, but here are a few good suggestion for keeping your email safe.
- Don’t open emails from people you don’t recognize.
- Use the spam filter and other security features on your email. They can block out some of the worst emails.
- If you don’t want your location tracked, log onto your email from a computer at a place like the public library.