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I've recently become aware of a snoopy little Chrome extension called Yesware. Yesware brands itself as an email productivity service for salespeople. It enables those who use it to know when, where, and from what device someone has opened an email.

It does this by embedding an invisible pixel in each email, and notifying the email sender when, where, and how that pixel has been served. Simple enough technology. Simply creepy, maybe.

Nick Tommarello writes on his blog about one way to keep Yesware users from tracking you: disable images. But that's like killing a fly with a bazooka. He also says blocking Yesware can be done with Microsoft Exchange, combining server-side and client-side rules.

There has to be a simpler way to protect my privacy from those who are using Yesware. Any help?

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3 Answers

Email image bugs like this are nothing new. People have been trying to use them for years. That's why Gmail by default doesn't display images in email until you explicitly tell it to (usually by marking the sender as trusted).

I don't allow images to display in any message except from a very few select senders. Sure, it requires an extra click if I decide I want to see images, but that's not that burdensome and the vast majority of the time I don't need to see the images anyway.

I disagree with your assessment that turning off images is a bazooka for killing a fly. I suggest that rather it is an effective anti-fly technology for a number of different types of very annoying flies.

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+1 especially since you can always enable images for a given sender –  batpigandme May 22 '13 at 21:57
    
I think that one concern raised by OP (and at least highlighted in Nick Tommarello's blog post) is the use of yesware by "ordinary" people in your relationship. Thus, blocking images except from a few select senders might not be relevant. (quoting Tommarello: “Dude! I saw you opened my email yesterday! When the hell are you going to respond?! And what were you doing in New York?!”) –  FabienAndre Jun 24 '13 at 11:34
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You can tell your browser to skip images from that host, without altering the hosts file.

If you use Chrome:

  • Open the Settings
  • Choose "Content settings..."
  • Click on "Manage Exceptions" under Images
  • Enter a Regular Expression pattern that matches the host. In this case, the RegEx equivalent of ".yesware.com" would be "[.]yesware.com".
  • Choose "Block" in "Behaviour" next to the pattern.

If you use Firefox:

  • Open the Settings
  • Click the "Content" tab
  • Right next to "Load images automatically", click on "Exceptions..."
  • Type in "*yesware.com" and click "Block".
  • Do the same with "*.yesware.com" and "yesware.com", just in case.

Now images from yesware.com or any subdomain served by it will be blocked by your browser, regardless of where they appear.

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I'm not sure about the exact working of YesApp but it can be mislead using editing your hosts file for sure...

find your hosts file at %SystemRoot%\system32\drivers\etc\hosts (Windows of course)...

Add this line to it : 127.0.0.1 http://*.yesware.com and 127.0.0.1 http://www.yesware.com to it.Now Restart...scripts will now report to localhost instead of YesWare....

ALSO: you might need to 'Take Ownership' of the hosts file

Further Info : Wikipedia of Hosts File

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You might want to mention that some AV software will trigger warnings, or block, attempts to alter the hosts file, as this is something malware likes to do. –  Bart Silverstrim May 23 '13 at 13:58
    
yes...this is something malwares & hacktools do...can't say about Avast, but McAfee & Kaspersky have no problems with this –  Ayush Shanker May 23 '13 at 14:12
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