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Spam Safe Email Addresses?

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For anyone who needs to put their email address onto a web site there is the constant threat of having the address picked up by the automatic email address harvesters employed by spammers. They then have the problem of being inundated by unwanted email.

The Center for Democracy & Technology produced a report (no longer online?) a few years ago on where addresses are the most vulnerable and what can be done about it.

Their main line of counter-attack is to convert the email address into something that, hopefully, the spammers' tools will not recognise. There tends to be three main approaches of which the report mentions the first two:

  1. Replacing the '.' and '@' characters with ' dot ' and ' at '. This is probably becoming less secure nowadays.
  2. Replacing all characters in the address with the &#nnn; format where nnn is a 3-digit decimal value of the character to be converted. Whilst far more secure than the first option, it would not be totally impossible to reverse engineer the information back into a usable address.
  3. The final option is converting the whole email address into a graphic. This is certainly the most secure option of the three. However, with the increasing amount of effort being put into cracking other security features such as CAPTCHAS even these can no longer be said to be 100% secure.

Even so, using any of the above must be better than exposing a plain email address to the world. Hello there.

The other pages is this article show how web sites using the PHP programming language can be used to implement any of these methods.

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