From time to time, articles from other publications will be printed here. (Naturally, with the permission of the author)
Jim Edwards is a well known and respected member of the writing and publishing community. His recent article on spam follows, then some comments of our own about the issue.
How To Avoid Spam Robots
- by Jim Edwards
© Jim Edwards - All Rights reserved
Despite the fact that Federal legislation (the CANSPAM act)
made it illegal, harvesting email addresses from the web
using automated robots remains alive and well.
Spammers who need fresh email addresses release software
spider programs that comb the Internet and suck email
addresses off Web pages, guest books, and anywhere else you
might post your email address.
Once they get your email address, spammers will trade it
around like 5th graders with a new pack of Pokemon cards at
recess and you can expect the avalanche of email to begin
flooding your inbox.
In order to combat this still rampant practice of stealing
email addresses from websites and sending people email they
don't want, the following tips should help protect you.
** Break It Up **
Obviously the best way to avoid getting picked up by an
email harvester is not to post your email anywhere on
anyone's website (including your own).
If the only way someone can get your email is if you give it
to them, that creates a similar situation to operating with
an unlisted phone number.
If telemarketers can't get your phone number, they can't
If you must post your email address, post it in a way that a
robot won't recognize it as an email address. Instead of
posting YOURNAME@YOURDOMAIN.COM, you can put YOURNAME (AT)
YOURDOMAIN.COM and then, in parenthesis, put (replace AT
with @ to email me).
Though it seems like an extra step for legitimate email,
you'll find it a very effective technique.
** Use An Image **
Currently, online spiders (ANY spider, including search
engines) cannot read text that appears in a graphic or
picture. If you must display an email address on a page,
then do it by typing your email address into your favorite
graphics program and saving the image as a .gif or .jpg.
Then post the image onto your web page so people can see the
email, but spiders cannot. This too creates an extra step
for people because they must type in your email address, but
it's an effective solution if you must display an email
address on your own website.
** Use An Email Form **
Another way to cut down on spam originating from your
own website is simply not to display an email at all.
Instead, allow customers and prospects to contact you
through a form where they fill in fields, click a button,
and your website emails you their message.
A note of caution: make sure the form script you use does
not keep your email address visible in the form code.
If the form code contains the email address, spam robots can
find it even though you don't see it on the page.
** Make It Hard To Guess **
Sometimes you'll get unsolicited email because a spammer
guessed your email address.
It's not a far stretch to imagine that someone probably has
the email Jim@yourdomain.com, so spammers will do a
"dictionary" attack on common usernames.
One way to defeat this is to place a "dot" (.) in your email
address, such as Jim.Edwards@yourdomain.com. The dot makes
it virtually impossible for spammers to guess your email
Jim Edwards is a syndicated newspaper columnist and the
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Take a look at Jim's valuable information here.
While Jim is correct in his assessment about security issues, and simple annoyances with unwanted email, we have to wonder why Microsoft has not taken a more pro-active stance toward eliminating the costly issue of SPAM.
If you have any interest in how MS defines 'pro-active,' this would be the place to visit. The finger pointing and evasiveness continues.
And the consumer is still at loggerheads with the whole process.
We don't have to guard our real mailboxes with a shotgun-----yet, with personal Internet communications, we are forced to purchase protection.
Reminiscent of Chicago in the 1920's.
Until next time.