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Web Security, Privacy & Commerce, 2nd Edition by Gene Spafford, Simson Garfinkel

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Avoiding Spam and Junk Email

Unwanted electronic mail is the number one consumer complaint on the Internet today. A 1999 study by BrightMail, a company that develops antispam technology, found that 84 percent of Internet users had received spam; 42 percent loathed the time it takes to handle spam; 30 percent found it to be a “significant invasion of privacy;” 15 percent found it offensive; and ISPs suffered account churn rates as high as 7.2 percent as a direct result of spam.

Protect Your Email Address

To send you junk mail, a spammer must have your email address. By understanding how spammers get email addresses, you can keep your mailbox relatively spam-free:

Don’t put your email address on your home page

One place that spammers get their email addresses is from web crawlers that search the Internet for email addresses. These email addresses are then sorted, indexed, compiled onto CD-ROMs, and sold. The easiest way you can keep your email address from being put into these collections is to avoid putting your email address on a web page.

Take your name out of online directories

Another source of email addresses that spammers use are online directories operated by organizations like AOL, BigFoot, and Yahoo. Although these organizations all try to fight spammers and prohibit spammers from using their directories to collect email addresses, invariably online directories are used for precisely this purpose. You can avoid a lot of spam by simply asking that your email address be unlisted. ...

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