A security problem caused by e-mail marketing services

E-mail marketing services such as MailChimp are useful, but people cannot know the difference between a link to a reputable website and a link to a website that installs malware.

"Most viruses, Trojan horses, and worms are activated when you open an attachment or click a link contained in an email message" (www.us-cert.gov/publications/virus-basics).

"Some phishing emails are very competently executed to the extent that they are impossible to tell apart from genuine emails just by inspection" (www.ncsc.gov.uk/blog-post/im-gonna-stop-you-little-phishie).

Many organizations use a marketing service to send e-mails. Usually, each link in the e-mail has one of these structures:

OrganizationName.MarketerURL
MarketerURL/OrganizationName

Examples:

http://www.mmsend3.com/spacer.cfm?tracking_id=3759072...
https://visitor.constantcontact.com/do?p=un&m=001D... 
http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001gRwP...
https://cornell.us13.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f779b9...
http://mailchi.mp/writethedocs/write-the-docs-newsletter-november-2017?e=ef5...
https://writethedocs.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=94377ea4...

Usually, the e-mails do not have a digital signature. Thus, if you receive an e-mail that seems to come from an organization that you trust, if the links are not to the organization's URL, you cannot be sure that the links are safe.

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