Email harvesting is the process of obtaining lists of email addresses using various methods for use in bulk email or other purposes. If you’ve gotten spam, it’s likely you’ve been a victim of this practice. It’s safe to say we’ve all suffered its wrath. There’s even a website devoted to shaming the scammers by scamming them back: http://www.419eater.com/html/hall_of_shame.htm
Paranoia plays a necessary role in how we approach technology, whether supplying information to websites or guarding our customers’ information on the websites we build. For personal fortification, many of my friends are using two email addresses for everyday use. The first, for friends, family and “reputable” websites, and the second for any registrations they feel could compromise the privacy of usernames, email addresses and passwords. Who hasn’t created a pen name and fake address for the purpose of blasting through a registration form to get a download link?
Because we love supporting whimsical if not useful website technology and applications, we also know that there’s a good chance our information may be used in a way we’d never agree to. If you’re not about to stop registering for services on new websites, and that’s what makes the Internet so darn fun, then here’s a few tricks of the trade to protect privacy and to avoid excessive SPAM:
- Gmail Spam Filters – No doubt they are the best in the business. Yahoo is catching up, but if you’re not using one or the other, then you can bet that your system administrator is paying for SPAM filters and spending the time to do it. Email without SPAM guard software is just not an option anymore, regardless of how obscure your email address seems.
- Interchangeable “gmail.com” and “googlemail.com”: That’s correct, you can provide firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and they both go to the same place. Give the @googlemail.com address to your close contacts while keeping the @gmail.com address for registering on websites. Then set Gmail filters accordingly. http://www.labnol.org/internet/email/gmail-email-alias-two-separate-gmail-address/2388
- Plus-addressing: Gmail has an interesting feature where you can add a plus sign (+) after your Gmail address, and it’ll still get to your inbox. It essentially gives you an unlimited number of e-mail addresses to play with. So, when you register at www.meetup.com using your email address, enter firstname.lastname@example.org and you’ll be able to track future incoming email, and you’ll know if meetup.com sold you out http://www.digitalalchemy.tv/2006/09/use-gmail-generate-unlimited-e-mail.html
When going out to the www, or what might also be called the wild wild web, we must keep our defenses but also not shy away from pioneering through the great technology gap that makes it so much fun to be plugged into the Internet.