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 Question about IT and email monitoring

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MeridianAlicante
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Joined: 23 Sep 2008
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PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 10:10 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

And once more I turn to 419eater for advice on a subject that has me baffled.

I know that there are programs out there that can be used on a network to monitor emails by checking the headers and the contents for certain key words and phrases.

Is there any way that this program can open the email, see that its a hyperlink inside, select the link, and then scan the contents of the page?

Or would this have to be done by a human?

Any advice is more than welcome. Mods, if this is in the wrong place, sincere apologies, I just had no idea where else to put it.

Thanks !

Edit: More explanation, and hopefully more clarity Smile

I'm trying to be as clear as possible, while being vague. It's not working too well Smile

The company has an email filter, I think, that looks for offensive words. An email was sent, containing nothing but hyperlinks to pages on a website, say cuteoverload. This was just a list, with no other text.
Quote:

http://www.cuteoverload.com/xxxx
http://www.cuteoverload.com/yyyy
http://www.cuteoverload.com/1234


One of these links contained questionable content, but this was only noticeable when the hyperlink was accessed.

Would a program access the links like that, and scan for the content on such a large and public site, or would a human have to go through and select each link individually?

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Last edited by MeridianAlicante on Wed May 13, 2009 11:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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doob
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Joined: 13 May 2009
Posts: 56


PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 11:36 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Most email programs aren't going to scan the contents of an entire web site.

Are you looking to do some type of content filtering for your network/email?

If you can be a bit more specific, we may be able to give you a bit more information.
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Ghost
419Eater Admin


Joined: 26 Jun 2004
Posts: 5730
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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 7:18 am Reply with quoteBack to top

MeridianAlicante wrote:
Mods, if this is in the wrong place, sincere apologies,


It's fine right here in GC. You'll get the best response here anyway.

To answer your question, well.... I have no idea Laughing

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Slightlyoutofit
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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 10:15 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Firefox has an addon that will open all links in an email with one click.

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2913

The email has to be opened by hand first though.


edit Doesn't work with the newest version of FF but there are probably other addons out there that will do the same job.

Another (long winded) way of seeing what's on a page before it's opened is the FF addon "Google preview". It sits in Google Search and gives you a thumbnail of the site before you decide to click on it. You'd have to put the site into Google and go from there and you probably wouldn't get a search hit on the exact page but if you put in www.419eater.com for example, it would give you a picture of the main page here.
Unfortunately, it's only a thumbnail so the text is too small. But you should be able to discern any photos it should give you an idea if the website is likely to contain any dodgy content.

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thud419
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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 10:35 am Reply with quoteBack to top

It could be done. Python for example has API that would make it easy.

On the other hand, I have never heard of it being done.

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firehouse5
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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 10:55 am Reply with quoteBack to top

@MeridianAlicante: it would help a lot to have a little more info about your hypothetical email scanning situation.

For example, if you are asking from a user perspective, such as a situation where someone has sent or received an email containing a questionable weblink & is worried about getting in trouble (a definite possibility if the company has a sufficiently draconian IT policy). The most common kind of central email scanning seems to be fairly straightforward keyword-based stuff, along with virus/malware/etc. Possibly just rejecting "unacceptable" messages, and/or creating a file for human attention. Note that "red flag" keywords can also be detected if they appear in URLs. Email scanning may also flag users with atypical patterns of emailing. An email with a big list of URLs might be "atypical" in such analysis, but the content would not be noted automatically.

The actual content of the sites referred to by emailed URLs (vs the text content of the URLs themselves) is not usually the domain of email scanning. Instead this usually falls under web access analysis - eg tracking each user's web history and assessing whether any "unacceptable" sites are visited. this can be done relatively automatically, even after the fact (for example, many companies try to block "problem" domains but users often find alternatives that are not yet on blacklists). So visiting a questionable URL is much more likely to be detected by some kind of automatic procedure than just sending or receiving one by email.

Of course it's an entirely different story if there is some kind of formal investigation (ie, not some kind of automatic procedure), but such is unlikely in the event of a one-off dodgy URL appearing in an email.

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MeridianAlicante
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Joined: 23 Sep 2008
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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 2:21 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Everyone, thank you for your answers!

Despite me being cryptic, you've given me a lot of information to work with, and hopefully now things will sort themselves out.

Many many many thanks

*hugs*

Meridian & her other half

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