E-crime month: Spambot


Everyone has received at least one spam email; once a spammer gets hold of your email address they will bombard you with emails offering you all sorts of products including weight-loss pills to scam prize wins from the Nigerian Lottery Commission. Spammers utilise scripts or bots to scan thousands of websites every day to find email addresses that have been posted in the public domain. Spambot’s are trained to search for the @ symbol between two words; the characteristic of an e-mail address. When they find one, they add it to their list of email addresses, and look for another. These programs continually run looking for innocent e-mail addresses to collect and bombard with spam.

Always be aware where you post personal details online and who might see and use it.

If you must post your email address online, don’t use the @ symbol, instead use the following format: username [at] domain [dot] com. Another trick is to encode your email address. Every character has a corresponding numeric value, known as a character entity.  There are websites that will encode your email address, so you won’t have to find the code for each character. Another trick is to add spaces after each character. For example, the email address username@domain.com will become u s e r n a m e @ d o m a i n . c o m. Although these tactics won’t fool all Spambot software they may help to fool some of them. There is no guaranteed method to prevent spammers from getting your email address if it’s in the public domain.

Be prepared to receive spam email and delete them as soon as they arrive. Look at the options available on your email account. You may be able to block the sender and prevent them from sending you future spam emails.

It’s estimated that there are currently 1.9 million bots running world-wide.


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