Friday, December 23, 2005

Check if your email is read by you only

Idea not mine but from here and here.

by Richard M. Smith

With all of the controversy about the news that the NSA has been monitoring, since 9/11, telephone calls and email messages of Americans, some folks might now be wondering if they are being snooped on. Here's a quick and easy method to see if one's email messages are being read by someone else.
The steps are:

Set up a Hotmail account.
Set up a second email account with a non-U.S. provider. (eg.
Send messages between the two accounts which might be interesting to the NSA.
In each message, include a unique URL to a Web server that you have access to its server logs. This URL should only be known by you and not linked to from any other Web page. The text of the message should encourage an NSA monitor to visit the URL.
If the server log file ever shows this URL being accessed, then you know that you are being snooped on. The IP address of the access can also provide clues about who is doing the snooping.
The trick is to make the link enticing enough for someone or something to want to click on it. As part of a large-scale research project, I would suggest sending out a few hundred thousand messages using various tricks to find one that might work. Here are some possible ideas:
Include a variety of terrorist related trigger words
Include other links in a message to known AQ message boards
Include a fake CC: to Mohamed Atta's old email address (
Send the message from an SMTP server in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.
Use a fake return address from a known terrorist organization
Use a ziplip or hushmail account.
Besides monitoring the NSA, this same technique can be used if you suspect your email account password has been stolen or if a family member or coworker is reading your email on your computer of the sly.

This wouldn't actually tell you if your mail is being read, so much as
it is a way to try to get someone (or something) to add your mail to the
"watch list". It is not a good idea to try this if you hope to ever
again fly on an American airline without first being strip-searched by
the TSA monkeys.