Disabling remote loading of images (in e-mails)

April 16, 2018 | minutes read

On both my laptop and iPhone, I’ve configured my e-mail clients to disable a setting called “Load Remote Images.”  Although there are a number of benefits in doing so, like reducing network traffic (i.e. bandwidth), my main motivation is this: preventing senders from tracking my e-mail behavior, preventing them from identifying whether or not I’ve open their e-mails.  When loading an image, the e-mail client sends an HTTP request to URL defined for the image(s). This, coupled with the the sender’s ability to craft a unique URL for each image, enables them to check the server’s access logs. In short, it answers the question: “Did they open up my e-mail?”

Am I paranoid? Perhaps. Is it over the top? Maybe. But allow me provide you a screenshot (below) of an e-mail that I recently received from The Everygrey, an awesome (daily) newsletter sent out to those interested in what’s going on in Seattle.

Touch base e-mail from Everygrey
Touch base e-mail from Everygrey

Despite the above e-mail, I’d like to mention that actually read their e-mails. Every day. But without loading of remote images (as well as not clicking on the links embedded in the e-mail), they can only assume that I’m an inactive user, which obviously isn’t the case.  And although I’ve used them as example, I’m actually defending against more nefarious senders.

I’m Matt Chung. I’m a software engineer, seasoned technology leader, and father currently based in Seattle and London. I love to share what I know. I write about topic developing scalable & fail-safe software running in the AWS cloud, digital organization as a mechanism for unlocking your creativity, and maximizing our full potentials with personal development habits.

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