How do spammers get your email address in the first place? Spammers use a technique called email harvesting to pick emails up the way workers pick fruit from a tree. In other words, they harvest emails. Make sure yours isn’t ripe for the picking by using these simple techniques to reduce the amount of spam you receive.
How Do Spammers Harvest Emails?
Spammers obtain email addresses in a variety of ways. The easiest way is for them to simply buy lists – and yes, many companies do indeed sell your data, including your email address, for profit. Spammers love to buy and sell email lists among themselves too, so unfortunately, once you get on one spam email list, you’re apt to be on many others.
Certain email addresses seem prone to spam. These include Yahoo!, Hotmail, Gmail and other free email services. Spammers simply try out various combinations of names, letters and numbers until they hit a valid email address. With millions of email addresses out there, it’s easier than you think for them to come up with at least one valid email address, and automated programs make it simple for them to spit emails out until one hits pay dirt. This form of attack, known as a directory or dictionary attack, is unfortunately very common.
Be very wary of sharing your email address with websites you’ve stumbled across online. Spammers often seed the internet with joke of the day, Bible quote of the day, free horoscopes and other daily emails in exchange for your email address. Once they obtain your email address, they’re quick to sell it to others. If you do sign up for a daily email or for an email list, make sure the service states they won’t sell or rent your email address. You can also use a disposable or throw-away email address to ensure it’s not sold to spammers.
There are, of course, more sophisticated ways that spammers harvest emails, including hidden programs and such that collect emails from unsuspecting website visitors. That’s why it’s important to surf the web carefully and with awareness, and be very careful to whom you entrust your email address.
Prevent Email Harvesting
You probably can’t prevent email harvesting entirely, but you can put numerous roadblocks in place to make your email address more difficult to pick from the internet.
- Use human-readable email addresses on your website if you must publish your email address. Use (dot) instead of a ., and (at) instead of the @ symbol, for example, to make your email address harder for spammers to read automatically.
- Avoid using free email addresses from the big companies if you can since they are often subjected attacks.
- Use contact forms that do not use visible email addresses.
If you’re tired of receiving ads for dating services, drugs you don’t need or want, or spoof emails phishing for your credit card information, take a good look at how you’re sharing your email address. You may be making it too easy for spammers to harvest your emails.
Web Design of Palm Beach can help you enact any of these strategies for cutting down on spam. We also provide expert website design and reliable web hosting. Contact Web Design of Palm Beach for more information or call us at 561.262.5886