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Understanding Web Beacon and HTML Form Filtering in Outlook Web App

Exchange 2010
 

Applies to: Exchange Server 2010 SP3, Exchange Server 2010 SP2

Topic Last Modified: 2011-04-28

Web beacons frequently come in the form of images that are downloaded onto a user's computer when the user opens a junk e-mail message. After the images are downloaded, a Web beacon notification is sent to the sender of the junk e-mail message that informs the sender that the recipient e-mail address is valid. After a user opens a message that sends a Web beacon notification back to the junk e-mail sender, the user may receive junk e-mail more frequently because the junk e-mail sender has verified that the user's e-mail address is valid. Web beacons can also contain harmful code and can be used to circumvent e-mail filters to deliver an e-mail message from someone who is sending unsolicited commercial e-mail.

noteNote:
By default, Outlook Web App enables users to choose to allow or disable potential Web beacon content in individual e-mail messages.

In Outlook Web App, an incoming e-mail message that contains content that can be used as a Web beacon prompts Outlook Web App to display a warning message to the user to inform the user that the content has been blocked. This occurs regardless of whether the message actually contains a Web beacon. If a user knows that a message is legitimate, they can enable the blocked content. If a user does not recognize the sender of the message, they can open the message without unblocking the content, and then delete the message without triggering beacons. If your organization does not want to use this feature, you can disable the blocking option for Outlook Web App.

The settings for filtering Web beacons are stored in Active Directory. You can configure how potential Web beacon content is filtered by using the Set-OwaVirtualDirectory cmdlet in the Exchange Management Shell. For more information about syntax and parameters, see Set-OwaVirtualDirectory.

The following list describes the parameters in the FilterWebBeacons property for Web beacon filtering in Outlook Web App:

  • UserFilterChoice   By using the UserFilterChoice parameter, you can let users decide whether they want to enable or continue to disable the blocked Web beacon content. Outlook Web App blocks all potential Web beacon content in an e-mail message and displays the following message in the information bar when a user receives an e-mail message that contains potential Web beacon content: "To help protect your privacy, Outlook Web App has blocked some images, sounds, or forms that can communicate your information to other Web sites. If you are sure that this message is from a trusted sender and you want to re-enable the blocked features, Click Here." To view the blocked content, the user can click the Click Here option.

    noteNote:
    By default, the UserFilterChoice parameter is enabled in Outlook Web App.
  • ForceFilter   By using the ForceFilter parameter, you can block all potential Web beacon content. Outlook Web App blocks all potential Web beacon content in an e-mail message and displays the following message in the information bar when a user receives an e-mail message that contains potential Web beacon content: "To help protect your privacy, Outlook Web App has blocked some images, sounds, or forms that can communicate your information to other Web sites." Users cannot override the ForceFilter parameter to view the blocked Web beacon content.

  • DisableFilter   By using the DisableFilter parameter setting, you can enable all potential Web beacon content in Outlook Web App.

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