Where does junk email originate from?

Where does junk email originate from?

Spam, also known as junk email, is unsolicited messages sent in bulk via email.  Email is considered by some marketeers to be a very cost-effective way of commercial advertising.

Email addresses are sourced to form large distribution lists, these lists are then used to mass broadcast a message. 95% of all junk mail you get is because you gave your email address to a third party.

Some of the most common ways an email address finds its way onto a distribution list.

Online forums

News groups

Sign-ups software downloads

Sign ups for information

Chat rooms/ online helplines

Your website home / contact page

Your business cards

Business directories

Attendance lists

Companies sell contact details to other companies

Domain name registries

The most common technique for gathering email addresses ….

Often referred to as ‘Harvesting’ a spambot* is a sophisticated program used for searching email addresses in web pages. These are then added to a database and sold to spammers. Avoiding the spambots is simple, a matter of not displaying your email address in the public domain.

* Spambots are special programs that crawl the Internet for email addresses posted in websites, discussion boards, comments and contact-us pages. Since the format of an email is unique ….@..... email addresses are easily found.

There are not many methods to deal with spambots. The best measure against spambots is not to post your email address anywhere on the Internet, following this strict rule is, however, limiting a motive for using the internet in the first place. One of the measures against spambots is to use a picture/graphic to display an email address. If it is a graphic, the spambot does not identify it.  But again, using graphics on your own website is easy but public discussion boards/chat rooms, social media, discussion forums, comment forms etc. do not allow you to post graphics.

Another method is to garble the email address and render it properly only when the webpage is displayed. For example:

[john][at][company][break][dot][break]com is stored as different parts. Only when someone visits the website using and passing the captcha, the email address is arranged in a sequence and displayed. Again, this technique is limited to your own website.

You could display your email like this :   john at yourcompany dot co dot uk, this works when a viewer reads the email address, but falls outside the capabilities of the Spambots.

To summarise, this is what NOT to do with your email address.

Try to avoid publishing valuable email addresses anywhere where it is visible to others.

Never leave your email address behind in online guestbooks, social media or webpages.

When you must publish your email address, use a disposable one that can be replaced periodically.

Do not use your primary email address for signing up for (free) downloads.

The above pointers form the first part in driving down the amount of junk email you receive, even the most disciplined user will at some point place their email address in the public domain. A spam management product like ‘Mail Laundry’ www.theemaillaundry.com is an essential part of your battle against SPAM. This is the case for even the most careful email address owner.

Next Topic - Spam Filtering

Mike Haddon
Marketing Manager
Solutions4IT