Spammers are Winning

There's been a lot of media coverage about spam. And despite the government getting involved and the various filtering tools, I think the spammers are winning.

As you would expect, e-mail addresses that appear on websites are being harvested and added to mailing lists. But what I'm trying to figure out is how e-mail addresses that don't appear anywhere are getting spam. Sure spammers are going to come up with common names like ken@hotmail.com and ted@yahoo.com, but even addresses that don't spell anything and contain numbers are getting spam. How can this be? My guess: someone at theses companies is selling the addresses. Can anything be done about it? I doubt it. Am I going to try? No.

But there are two things that I've done recently. The first is to remove all e-mail addresses from this site. Anyone that wants to contact me now has to go through a form. Yeah, I know forms can be inconvenient. But I've kept mine short with only three input fields and none of them are mandatory.

The second thing is signing up with SpamGourmet. This free service allows you to create new e-mail addresses on the fly and specify a maximum number of e-mails that can be sent to that address. After the max, the e-mails are discarded and you never see them. This is great for signing up on other sites that require you to provide a valid address. Check it out.

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3 Comments

  1. Yep you're absolutely correct. Even though company lawyers write up excellent privacy policies, you'll be surprised how easily the company databases of clients and email contacts is accessible to internal employees. Who knows what happens from there. I'd recommend that you take your spam protection methods a little further than simply removing the email addresses on the site. How about the users of your site? Mandatory email entry to leave this comment? hmmm protect your users as well. Do your lawyers write good privacy policies? No, seriously. I wasn't able to find one on your site.

  2. One thing I found interesting was when I had my email hosted on one system and I never really received any spam at all. I've always been very cautious about where my email address goes and who knows it and what lists I am on. So then one day I decided to switch my domain over to a new hosting provider. No other changes were made other than switching hosting providers. The very moment that my email hosting was transferred I have received tons of spam. So it makes me wonder that their email servers are clearly being targeted and not my email address. So it just goes to show, that no matter how careful you are to protect your email address, sometimes spammers find other ways to get their spam email into your inbox!

    • Marios Alexandrou

      I've always wondered if there's someone going around and buying e-mail lists from hosting companies. It seems like even random letter e-mail addresses eventually receive spam. OK I'm taking my tinfoil hat off now :-)

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