LONDON ― When you open an email message, watch out for the spy pixel, a tactic that allows companies – or individuals with malicious intent, to collect information without your knowledge. Fortunately, there are a few precautions you can take to avoid falling prey to this danger.
A spy pixel takes the form of a simple dot on the screen, largely invisible to the eye, simply because it is the same colour as the background on which it appears.
This image in fact contains a tracker designed to retrieve information about your online activity, without your knowledge, AFP reported.
Loading this image, whose name contains a user identifier, informs the server on which it is hosted that the tracked person has visited a page or, in this case, read an email.
While this may not seem very dangerous at first glance, it does represent an invasion of privacy.
To avoid systematically displaying these images, you should first block them by default. To do this, simply search your email settings for the appropriate option.
On Gmail, for example, you need to check “Ask before displaying external images” in the settings. The procedure is the same for other webmail services, on the computer or via their dedicated mobile application. It’s up to you to find out how to block the display of images in your security settings.
This way, no more spy pixels will be displayed by default, and you’ll be able to open the images embedded in email messages as you choose.