Ever wondered when you receive a new spam in your email account about how the spammers got a hold of your email? Well, I do, and not just because I have too much time on my hands. I am also cautious with all the sites where I use my primary email account. Gmail does a pretty good job protecting your email account by providing HTTPS access, which means that any data you enter in your browser on this channel is encrypted, hence secure. All other sites where I register this email account as my contact information are all either banking sites, amazon, ebay or other such reputed sites. All employ the standard practice of using HTTPS to secure my information from being sniffed. So when I began receiving a daily email from naukri.com (employment site) it really bugged me. More so because I had browsed their site just a few days before being turned into an unwilling recipient of their literature. This could not be explained away as pure coincidence.
The only other site where I used my email address in recent times was with this website’s hosting provider. Whenever I have an issue with my blog, I enter my name and email address on a unsecured web page before I am allowed to proceed with a live chat with one of their technical support persons. Such casual use could have allowed any piece of software sitting between my computer and the server to capture my email address as well as any other data that was being transferred. A similar piece of software can very easily track all the website addresses that I visit. Connecting a user’s browsing pattern to their email address is even easier to accomplish. You see, every networking device is tagged with a unique identifier that is necessary for the communication protocol to work. This is called the MAC address. Besides the MAC address, there is also the IP address that is assigned to these devices. Collating information based on a common MAC address or IP address is one of the simplest software programs to write. It all seemed plausible in theory. But needing some more proof, I rested this theory for the time being.