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Can the operating system/browser look like from a different machine when sending email from iPhone?

Masosa

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I am having an issue with someone using a Gmail account who affirms he can send an email from his iPhone that looks like it was sent from the computer: "I have two different ways to send email from my phone. One is Google, and one is Mozilla. One reads like my computer and one says from my iPhone." I don't discuss that one can send an email where it does not say, "sent from my iPhone" at the bottom, but I believe some of his emails were not sent from the iPhone but from a computer. In some of the emails the operating system/browser was Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 8_3 like MacOS X) AppleWebKt/600.1.4 (KHTML, like Gecko) Mobile/12F70 and in other cases was Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 5.1; rv:11.0) Gecko Firefox/11.0 (via gght.com GoogleImageProxy). I am, as you see, very far from being computer savvy, but I doubt that the way one sends an email on Gmail can make the operating system change. Am I wrong? Could all those emails have originated from the same machine (iPhone5)?

I am new to this forum and this is actually my first time ever turning to forums (I also posted the same question in a GMail forum by Google). If this is not the right forum to ask the question, please accept my apologies and let me know if there is a more appropriate forum for it.
 

Skull One

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Interesting question. I did a very quick test by sending emails the following three ways:

Apple's Mail app using my google account.
Google's GMail app using my google account.
Firefox under Windows 7 logged into my google account.

All three ways were sent to my hotmail account. Pulled the full headers for all three. Not one of them had any OS/Browser header info in them.

So I went the opposite direction. Sent emails the following two ways:

Apple's Mail app using my hotmail account.
Safari under iOS 10 using the outlook.com web interface.

Both emails went to my Google account. Pulled the full headers from these two emails. Neither of them had any OS/Browser header info in them.

So I am at a loss to how you are even getting that information considering both MS and Google email services don't track that information in their headers. BTW, I am not even remotely implying that you are making this up. But I will need some more information to help with the analysis.

1) What email service are you receiving these emails on?
2) What program are you using to get the header info?
3) Can you past two examples of the entire header info?
 

Skull One

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Now everything falls into place. Here is what I do know about browsers and "User Agents". There are a lot of browsers out there on iOS and Android that allow the user agent to be changed so it can mimic another browser. Mercury for iOS probably had the most complete list I have ever seen. So it is highly possible for someone to use three different browsers and make them all give the same user agent response.

But, there are no email apps that I am currently aware of that allow for this type of behavior. And as such the "Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 8_3 like MacOS X) AppleWebKt/600.1.4 (KHTML, like Gecko) Mobile/12F70" has a high probability of coming from an iPhone running iOS 8.3. The "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 5.1; rv:11.0) Gecko Firefox/11.0 (via gght.com GoogleImageProxy)" has a moderate probability of coming from a browser (PC, tablet or phone unknown) but also has a moderate probability of a third party app. The interesting part about it is the GoogleImageProxy tag. That only happens, as far as I know, on the second or greater access of an image thru a GMAIL based access to the email. Which means the user was using something (app or browser) that was accessing mail.google.com directly.

As of right now, if you aren't changing the image used in the email, I think you are safe to assume (with a high probability of being correct) that if you see GoogleImageProxy it was done from a browser or gmail based app and anything else is probably a non-gmail based app like Mail for iOS.
 
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Masosa

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Thanks again for your response Skull one. I think I found the answer to this question in here
How Gmail Improved Security & Email Analytics by Caching Images | The Cloud Nine Agency
Basically because in 2013 Google made a change in how Gmail handles images, now all images display in messages automatically across desktop, iOS and Android. Instead of serving images directly from their original external host servers, Gmail now serve all images through Google’s own secure proxy servers. According to google, it was done for security purposes: images are checked for known viruses or malware. Also, people don't have to click “display images below” link again which makes things easier. As a consequence the user-agent is now a fake one: "all emails opened in Gmail webmail, or mobile apps will appear to be opened in Firefox in Mountain View, CA. The Firefox user agent data is fake information and is meant to give Gmail users more privacy. All IP geolocation information will now show Mountain View, CA since this is where Google’s image servers are located." I actually tested myself and it is true when you use the Gmail app on the iPhone to open an email, the user-agent return is Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 5.1; rv:11.0) Gecko Firefox/11.0 (via gght.com GoogleImageProxy), just as it would look from another platform.
Thanks so much again for your help.
 

Skull One

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Interesting. That actually backs up exactly what I said. The iOS Mail app didn't use the full gmail system and hence you could see its use, but all other access points that do honor mail.google.com are going to be viewed as the same browser. Now my new question is, what versions of Mail under iOS does this theory apply to? Because a few years ago, Apple and Google had a falling out which left the Mail app not able to get real time push notifications of new mail. Which means there might be different access methods today in iOS 10 vs 9 vs 8 vs even 7.
 
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