Spambot Beware

Avoidance - Social Skills

The first step in avoidance is to not overlook some important social skills. These are some of the most obvious, yet important things to consider:

Protecting your email address

The best solution, yet overlooked, is simply to not give out your email address. Sure, you can give it to your family, your friends, you can even put it on your business card or in your sig file when sending email. Before you slap your email all over a web page for the world to see, ask yourself if it really needs to be up there. All the people you want to mail you may already have your address.

Use common sense a well. When visiting a web page that asks you for your email address, don't give it out unless you really need to. Check the page - it should have a statement telling you not only why they need your email address, but what they intent to do with it. Beware of hidden opt-in lists. Even very large and popular companies have been known to do this.

Check your system

Your system, meaning your ISP, company, or whomever you get your email account from, may have commited a common error: putting all their employees or users names and emails on a single page. Spambots love pages like this - in one swoop, they have the email of everyone on the system, no matter how careful the users were. Check to see if your company does this. If they do, ask them to stop. At the very least, ask them to employ some of the measures from this site.

Social engineering

Social engineering is where you get other people to help you out. Ask your system administrator to remove that big list of all the people and emails on your local ISP. Ask your friends to not list your address out in the open under the heading "Send some email to my friend!" Don't be shy - it's your email. Would you want your phone number posted all over creation?

Search the Web

Don't know whose linking to you? You would like to find out which pages on the world wide web have your email plastered all over it? You're in luck! Search engines can help you out there: the best is currently Google.

Pick your address

When you have a choice, use an educational or a government email address (ones that end in .edu or in .gov). Some spambots (and spammers) will avoid such addresses, but it is by no means a protection. It may lighten the load, however.

Spambot Beware: Main page <> Detection <> Avoidance <> Harassment <> Glossary

Avoidance: Main page <> Social <> HMTL <> CGI

Written by Greg Sabino Mullane (greg "at" Last update March 30, 2003.

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