Help in rendering Gmail 'Last Accounty Activity' useless.
July 11, 2009 9:19 PM   Subscribe

Automatically login / logout of Gmail at a specified interval

As you know, gmail lists the latest activity at the bottom of the page, and shows the last few ip's and the times they logged in by clicking details.

I need to 'fool' this log, by automating logging in, and logging out at a specified interval. Some ideas would be through a firefox extension, applescript, a mouse clicking recording program, etc, but I haven't found any such solution.

Without going into details, I need to render the gmail activity log useless.
posted by passtehbrainz to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You could write a Perl script using WWW::Mechanize—shouldn't be very difficult. If you MeFi Mail me, are reasonably computer-literate (though not necessarily with any experience in Perl), and aren't in a huge hurry, I could probably be convinced to guide you more specifically through it.
posted by likedoomsday at 10:18 PM on July 11, 2009

You could probably put something together with libgmail (or the equivalent in whatever language you prefer) and cron.

From a quick inspection of libgmail there's no logout function as the script doesn't store any state. So from gmail's perspective it would be like a browser that logged in and then was never closed -- eventually it would time out the session. Maybe you can find a different binding library that has the ability to explicitly end a session.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:24 PM on July 11, 2009

The point of the feature is to give Gmail users a means of discovering and foiling account hijacks; what you are asking for could basically be taken as a way to obfuscate the hijack of a Gmail account, by filling up the account access log with excessive account login/logout time stamps. While you can do this by various scripted means, the machine that is running the script will still be logging in and out of the target account, and that activity will be visible to any other user logged into that account simultaneously from any other machine, via the dynamic page view created by Google's servers. Hence, other than balloning up the activity log, such automated login/logout may not actually "render the gmail activity log useless."
posted by paulsc at 10:34 PM on July 11, 2009

I think what he means is that gmail's UI only exposes the last 5 or so entries of that log, so if you fill it up with chaff you can remove the evidence of an earlier access. (Where 'hide' here means relative to another person that can access to the account, not to a google employee since surely they keep full logs regardless of how many they limit the display to.)
posted by Rhomboid at 10:44 PM on July 11, 2009

If you just set up any mail client that does IMAP to check Gmail every [x] minutes, that will count as accessing the account. Get a shell account somewhere where you can leave processes running an indefinite length of time, set up an email client like pine to check every 10 minutes, and then run it in something like screen so you can leave it running but log out of the account.
posted by ckolderup at 1:08 AM on July 12, 2009

Should be fairly easy to do with AutoIt by just sending keypresses or mouse clicks to your browser window.
posted by wongcorgi at 1:28 AM on July 12, 2009

I'm sure there's a practical and fascinating reason you want to do this, which I would be interested in hearing! But:

Without going into details, this seems unethical.
posted by rafter at 2:48 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

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