Spam Bam, No Thank You Ma’am

The Annoyance:

Spam spam egg sausage and spam—that’s all I get in my inbox. How did these spammers get my email address?

The Fix:

Spammers can grab your email address in any number of ways. If you posted your address in an online forum, newsgroup, or on a web page, it was probably harvested by a spambot—special software that scours the web looking for “@” signs, then collects the addresses surrounding them. You may have signed up for an online sweepstakes at a site like or and agreed to receive the junk, even if you’re not aware you agreed to it. (See the "How to Read a Privacy Policy" sidebar in this chapter.) Or a friend might have signed you up at one of these sites (friends like this you don’t need). More likely you were the victim of a “dictionary” or “brute force” attack, where a spammer overwhelms your ISP’s email server with messages sent to random combinations of letters (like , , etc); those that don’t bounce back are added to the spammers’ collection and then sold—over and over and over. So, in other words, you could do absolutely nothing on the Net and some spammer could still find your email address and start filling your inbox with junk.

For a detailed discussion of the many ways spammers harvest email addresses, see For a good general discussion of Spam, read the FAQ provided by the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial ...

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