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Here Comes the SPAM…

  • Posted April 20, 2006
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TITLE: Here Comes the SPAM… AUTHOR: Irina LENGTH: 703 words
FORMAT: 59 characters per line CONTACT: irbonness@ureach.com
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Here Comes the SPAM…

By Irina

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author grants permission to publish this article, in its
entirety, electronically or in print, as long as the bylines are
included. A courtesy copy of your publication (or, at least, an
e-mail notification) sent to irbonness@ureach.com will be
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I exercise regularly and follow a healthy diet. My weight is
right on the money. So every invitation “to loose 30 pounds in
20 days” insults more than just my intelligence and literary
taste. Yet until now I managed to treat Unsolicited Commercial
Email (UCE) or simply SPAM as a nuisance that wastes my time and
resources, but does not represent a serious problem. Not any
more!

The message that changed my attitude looked rather innocent:
“Hello [fname], I am so-and-so. You are receiving this message
because I saw your online business site…” The next day I got
another similar message from different so-and-so. Soon, the
number escalated to a dozen a day. Very disturbing was also the
fact that the messages were arriving to my “strictly business”
email addresses reserved exclusively for my customers and
business partners. A little research quickly revealed the name
of my new enemy – Spam Bot.

Spam Bot is much like a search engine spider. Twenty-four hours
a day, seven days a week it crawls from page to page looking for
email addresses. Even single Spam Bot is able to quickly produce
huge list of addresses (only addresses – that’s why they called
me [fname]!) which are used to send SPAM. Unfortunately, there
are many of them… Another problem is that being extremely easy
to generate and thus very cheap, these lists are sold and
re-sold over and over again to naïve (obtuse?) “netrepreneurs”.

Looks like a serious self-perpetuating problem for anyone with
business email address posted on the Internet. Is there a
solution? Well, yes – you can completely eliminate this type of
SPAM by making your email address unrecognizable for Spam Bots.
Here are several possible approaches:

1. Use the FORM MAIL whenever possible. This not only conceals
your email address, but also makes it easier for real visitors
to contact you. Here is a working example:
http://www.megaone.com/hbb/savemoney/ Anyone can email me a
question by typing it in the window right on my page and hitting
the “Submit Query” button. Yet the address itself is hidden from
my human visitors as well as Spam Bots.

2. Replace your “mailto:” link with an IMAGE of your email
address. To see an example go to http://www.pcpages.com
rafficy/links.html Feel free to examine the HTML code of the
page by right- clicking anywhere in the window and then
scrolling to “View source” in the drop-down menu. Instead of my
email address you (and Uncle Spam Bot as well!) will only see a
link to “emaddress.gif”. In this case additional security brings
about some inconvenience – the address is not “clickable” and
thus one has to memorize it or write it down. This slight
disadvantage is circumvented in the next approach.

3. Replace several REAL characters in your email address with
so-called SPECIAL characters. These special characters always
begin with “&” and end with “;”. Whatever is in between
determines how the browser will interpret that particular
special character. For example, typing “&” “#” “6″ “4″ “;”
(without quotation marks and spaces) is equivalent to using the
real character “@”.

If you are skeptical that this replacement alone is enough to
fool the Spam Bot (that, by the way, makes two of us) – proceed
with replacing other characters in your email address. Here is
your cheat-sheet to substitute all vowels: a=#97, e=#101,
i=#105, o=#111 and u=#117. Remember to start every special
character with “&” and end with “;”. You can see how it works by
going to http://www.megaone.com/hbb/savemoney/links.html

My human visitors can see and click on my email address by using
“Click here to get my email address” link. When viewing the code
of the little window, you will not find the address in an
explicit form – just a long string of special characters with
some letters in between. This (hopefully!) is enough to confuse
Spam Bots visiting my site.

We will never be able to totally eliminate SPAM that seems to
come with the cyberspace “territory”. Yet I should feel just a
little better if the above suggestions at least partially shield
your inbox from unwelcome (and often very badly phrased) offers
to consolidate the debts you don’t have or safely enlarge a part
of your body that… well, you do not have either.

Copyright (C) by Irina 2003.

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About the Author: Irina helps people save on healthcare and
create steady stream of residual income working from home

http://www.megaone.com/hbb/savemoney/

http://www.megaone.com/hbb/makemoney/

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  • Posted On April 20, 2006
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