Sneaky, Sneaky, Sneaky

Have you ever wondered how spammers got your email address? Some are just guessed at, especially if your email address contains a simple word or name. Others are bought and sold when you register at some websites.

As I understand it, the most used method of ‘farming’ email addresses for spam is for computer ‘robots’ to ‘crawl’ through websites and look for words with ‘@’ in the middle. It seems to simple to be effective – but it is.

With that in mind, some very smart geeks decided to set some traps… ‘honeypots’ in the parlance of spam hunters.

There is now a page on this website, published for no other reason than to attract spammers! There are links to it, but not in a way a human would notice. The page contains text, which when read by a person looks different than when read by a computer&#185. It’s very clever.

Most clever of all, every time a computer stumbles by, it creates a brand new email address. If that email address gets spam, the original computer that mined the address can be located… and the spammer can be punished.

Unlike the rest of the CAN-SPAM act, there is a very enforceable section which prohibits these drive-by email minings. Like I said, very clever.

You can click here to see the page you normally wouldn’t see. For more information on the project itself, click here.

&#185 – This obfuscation is done by slicing the screen into vertical columns and then formatting the text so words match up between adjacent columns. Looking at the text as a computer does, adjacent letters might be hundreds of characters apart. So, it is readable on the screen but gibberish to another computer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *