eMail spam is one of the greatest annoyances of our time.
For the third and fourth quarter of 2008, the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group reported that approximately 90% of all eMail was spam. That’s an incredible number. It clearly demonstrates how much time and energy must be wasted to receive, identify and get rid of spam.
While spam protection has become quite effective at recognizing unsolicited bulk eMail, it’s still impossible to filter out and stop receiving spam.
Besides regular spam, we receive a lot of advertising in our inboxes. Although these eMails are often personalized, they still classify as spam. However, these eMails were usually created based on information we made available about ourselves, rather than straight forward eMail guessing.
Hence, one way to help stop receiving spam is to control the information you’re releasing about yourself. The best way to do this is to protect and hide your eMail address.
1. Scramble your eMail address
We often have to share our eMail address online. So what can be done to make it difficult for a bot to simply copy the information?
Rather than publishing your eMail address in its standard format, you could scramble and thereby conceal it. It requires an attentive and intelligent mind to recognize a scrambled eMail address and re-assemble it into a functional format.
A scrambled eMail address can look something like this: tina at make use of dot com
And this is the unscrambled eMail address: email@example.com
2. Hide your eMail address in an image
A similar solution is to hide the eMail address within an image. There are several tools that will do this for you. One which provides many other functions is EmailCover.
Not only does it produce an image containing your eMail address in a CAPTCHA format, it also hosts the image and provides you with a set of links you can use to embed the image in your website, signature or on social network sites. Using the bookmark feature you can directly share your eMail address with the most popular sites. Finally, the tool records how often the image has been viewed.
Similar tool: E-Mail Icon Generator.
If you want to be sure only the smartest people can guess your eMail address, combine 1 and 2.
3. Encode your eMail address
If you must post an active eMail link, for example to give people a quick and easy way to contact you, you can encode your eMail address in a way that is not readable by spambots, which extracts eMail addresses from websites.
4. Hide eMail behind a test
With a tool called scr.im, you can protect your eMail address by hiding it behind a simple test.
At scr.im’s start page you enter your eMail address and the site will provide you with an ultra short scrimmed URL, along with custom HTML to share your eMail address on Twitter, Facebook, within HTML documents and in forums.
The link will lead anyone needing your eMail address to a quick test. If they manage to pass the test, they will be rewarded with a fully active link to your eMail address.
5. Don’t share your eMail address
The last resort is to not share your eMail address at all. Set up temporary inboxes or forms through which you can be contacted indirectly.
For example whspr! allows you to create a temporary form, which will relay messages to your eMail address. Users have to prove they are human by passing a CAPTCHA test.
Summary of tools mentioned in this article:
MakeUseOf has previously reported on how to identify and manage eMail spam. Dean denounced Top 5 Current Email Scams You Should Know About. Ryan explained How To Deal with Spam and Report Email Scams in the US. I outlined how to Get a Grip on eMail Spam Before It Gets A Grip On You.
How do you protect yourself from too much spam?
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