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Tip on how to keep spam out of your "personal" email address . . .

Discussion in 'Web & Email' started by BobJam, Jul 4, 2007.

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  1. BobJam

    BobJam Thread Starter

    Jan 10, 2005
    A lot of spam (but not all) comes from "harvesting" programs that spammers use to "harvest" email addresses left on Internet pages. Some spammers can also harvest addresses from "Forwarded" emails.

    So, to eliminate the Internet page source of spam, there are three things you can do:

    1) NEVER leave your "personal" email address on the Internet.
    Now there are some sites that absolutely INSIST that you leave an email address - like when joining discussion groups, when making a purchase, setting up your profile for your Health Insurance web site, Online banking, etc.

    For that requirement, see point #3.​

    2) On discussion group postings, always "munge" your mail address if you want to post it.
    "Munge" means to disguise it. For example, one of my email addresses (see point #3 for why I have more than one) is rbjamie [at] gmail.com. Notice that I typed out "at" instead of using the @ symbol. That's "munging". Most harvesters look for the @ symbol to get email addresses, so if you leave out the @ symbol by typing "at", the harvesters will not identify it.

    However, spammers are getting more sophisticated tools, and harvesters may now look for "at" when it's typed out - which is why I put it in brackets too. But then they may look for "at" in brackets too - it's a real cat-and-mouse game.​


    Get an Internet Email account - such as Yahoo, Gmail (Google), or Hotmail (Microsoft) IN ADDITION to your ISP's Email account (I call that one your "personal" email).

    For Internet stuff, leave your Internet email address. That way, even if spammers figure out a way to harvest your munged address, spam will only be delivered to your Internet Email address.

    It's like having two snail mailboxes. One is for junk mail only, and the other is for "personal" stuff, like correspondence from family or friends and bills.

    Which brings me to another point on this "two email" strategy. Give your uncontaminated "personal" email address to trusted family members and friends ONLY.​

    Now for the "Forwarding" email variety of spam harvesting, there is also something you can do, though the effectiveness of this will depend on your correspondents.

    When people forward you emails, which are most often either jokes or urban legend chain emails, most of the time they'll just send out the email WITH ALL THE PREVIOUS ADDRESSES ON IT, which is the deafault sending format. You'll recognize these when you see all those underlined addresses of people, some of who you probably know and some of who you've never heard of.

    So, let's say that Aunt Gertrude believes everything she reads in email. Auntie dear makes sure that you get every warning, every sentimental story and every petition that's going around. However, Auntie's forward list doesn't just include you. There are 37 people on her list and only three of those are relatives. 34 people on her list are perfect strangers to you. In fact, five of these are actually perfect strangers to Auntie as well. She met them in some chat room somewhere.

    Now, as soon as Auntie forwards that email that the government is going to end the social security program and make people like her homeless, 34 people whom you do not know can see your email address. 10 of those people decided to forward the message again. Each of these has a "buddy" list of approximately 10 more. That's now 134 people whom you do not know who now have access to your email address. This happens just in the first two hours since Auntie forwarded the mail to you. Of that 134 people, one could be a professional spammer, one could own a pornography site and wants business and another could enjoy sending viruses. Get the picture? Add in all the people who get the forward after that and your email address has just been handed over to hundreds of people in one day.

    There are a couple of solutions to this: (1) Ask Auntie to stop forwarding email to you with other people on the list, and explain to her how she can "cut" those addresses out BEFORE emailing TO ANYBODY, (2) Ask Auntie to forward to you AND OTHERS using only the blind carbon copy feature, or (3) Just ask Auntie to stop forwarding those sorts of things to you anyway.

    As I said, the success of this depends on your correspondents willingness to do what you ask. Ask Auntie nicely. Actually, if you're rude and Auntie doesn't like you anymore and takes you off her mailing list, you've really accomplished what you wanted to do anyway . . .
  2. BobJam

    BobJam Thread Starter

    Jan 10, 2005
    Forgot to add another option for those "Forwarded" emails that contain a lot of addresses.

    If "Auntie" insists on still forwarding her emails without removing all the addresses or using the bcc feature, then tell her this:

    You are changing your email address to: (insert your INTERNET EMAIL ADDRESS) and you will no longer get her emails at the address she has. So tell her to forward those emails to your "new" email address (that would be your INTERNET EMAIL ADDRESS). And tell her to put your "new" email address in her address book and delete the current one.

    This way at least she will be forwarding stuff that's likely to generate spam to an address that you already use for a repository for junk email. So if it gets contaminated from her forwarding . . . so what?? . . . it's ALREADY contaminated probably (from leaving it as your email address on the Internet).

    And too, if Auntie is not too computer savvy (and most, BUT NOT ALL, who forward chain emails and joke emails are NOT computer savvy), you don't want her to have your "personal" email address in her address book, BECAUSE IF SHE GETS ONE OF THOSE WORM VIRUSES (AND THAT'S LIKELY) THAT GOES THROUGH HER ADDRESS BOOK AND MAILS ITSELF OUT TO ALL IN HER ADDRESS BOOK, you want that virus to show up in your Internet Email account.

    Of course, it really doesn't matter where a virus shows up - AND I'M ASSUMING YOU HAVE AN ANTIVIRUS ON-ACCESS SCANNER RUNNING - but it's just better to keep your "personal" account uncontaminated.

    I used this strategy, and still do, and kept my "personal" email uncontaminated for years. UNTIL SOME MORON (my own son probably) forwarded some nonsense to me and a spammer likely got ahold of my "personal" email address, and spam started showing up in my "personal" account.

    If that happens, then there are some good spam filers available for use on POP accounts.
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