Tech Xpress

Protect Email Addresses on Websites from Spammers

Got a sudden spurt of spam mails in your inbox? That happens because spammers out there got your email address. And how did they get it? They used spam bots, which are programs that search and collect email addresses from webpages, internet forums, chat rooms, ...etc.

Many website owners (including me) provide a 'Contact' link on their sites through which visitors can directly get in touch with them. Most of the 'Contact' links are nothing but direct links to an email address. These email addresses are easy prey for spam bots.

Here are some tips that could prevent your email from being exploited by spammers-

Use different emails for personal and other uses
This is a pretty straight-forward approach. Using a different email for your website will at least protect your primary email address. However, the other email address still stands to be exposed to spammers.

Use a third-party Contact form
Contactify is a webservice that creates contact forms for your website. It generates a unique link which opens a contact form. Messages entered by users will be emailed to your account. Off course, you'll have to provide your email address to Contactify.

Use a mix of both the above methods
A combo of both the above isn't a bad idea. Create a different email for your website and use that email to get a Contactify form. This way, your primary email is hidden from your website and Contactify. Even a manual email-hunt from spammers would not yield anything.

Use images instead of text hyper links
Revealing you email in images will stop spam bots but will require site visitors to transcribe the email from the image. Just take a screen shot of your email address, save it as an image and put it on your site.

Obfuscate email addresses
This is an old trick that may not protect you against sophisticated bots. Here, each character of your email address is converted to ASCII.
Check out an online Email Obfuscator!

There are other ways to hide email address using Javascript. However, a visitor who has javascript disabled in his/her browser would have no way to contact the site administrator.
What do you do to keep your email away from spammers? Do let everyone know.

I personally use a bit of email obfuscation, but Gmail's spam filter does a pretty neat good job for me.

Related:
How Users Reveal their Email Passwords Unknowingly?

posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Monday, August 04, 2008


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