Wizcrafts

Consequence of posting your email address in plain sight

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I realize that this section of LWN allows non-members to post and reply. These non-members do not have profiles, or the privilege of using our private message system. This means that anybody wishing to contact non-member guests who post in this Help Wanted forum will have to give some contact info in plain sight. I want those who do this to be aware of the risk.

Posting email addresses in plain text on forums that are world readable (as is LWN) leaves them open to automated "crawlers" that act as email account harvesters. They scour web pages all over the Internet searching for recognizable email addresses and copy any they find to a database that is sold to marketers, spammers and scammers.

Don't be surprised if you begin to receive more spam than usual to email accounts that you list in plain text on publicly viewable forums. Our forums are indexed by all the major search engines, as is the text content posted to the various topics.

If your email service provides spam or junk mail filters, use them. Add legitimate message senders to your friends or contacts list. Be wary of messages that don't make sense with regard to the post in question. Scammers are experienced in leading people on when those people are looking to buy or sell something or a service.

If you post your phone number, watch out for scammers and marketers who may have obtained it via a harvested phone database dump.

Members of LeatherWorker.net can keep their contact details from harvesters and scammers by keeping them only in their profiles, which only other members can access. This allows members to contact each other via our messaging system, or by viewing a member's contact info that has been listed in that profile. You can choose not to share this information if you wish.

This is a service announcement from Wiz. You can learn more by reading my security blog

Members are welcome to contact me about this via the forum's PM system. Non-members can contact me via my website which has a contact page.

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One way to protect against this is to put extra spaces, underlines or by spelling out symbols in the email that you type and then tell the reader what to remove to get the actual address. For example: leather worker 1234 at aol dot com  -  remove all spaces and replace words at and dot with symbols.

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6 hours ago, darkknight0667 said:

One way to protect against this is to put extra spaces, underlines or by spelling out symbols in the email that you type and then tell the reader what to remove to get the actual address. For example: leather worker 1234 at aol dot com  -  remove all spaces and replace words at and dot with symbols.

This is the best alternative for folks to exchange email addresses in plain sight. It is called email obfuscation. It's not foolproof, but at least it gives you some protection from robot scrapers. It will not fool actual eyeball scrapers though. Keep your antennas up.

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Here is a link to Google search results for "obfuscate your email address." There are plenty of suggestions and even an online tool to do the work for you.

Obfuscate means to obscure (verb) something; to conceal a meaning from plain sight.

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On 5/27/2016 at 11:25 AM, darkknight0667 said:

One way to protect against this is to put extra spaces, underlines or by spelling out symbols in the email that you type and then tell the reader what to remove to get the actual address. For example: leather worker 1234 at aol dot com  -  remove all spaces and replace words at and dot with symbols.

This used to be true, however the bots and crawlers nowadays are very sophisticated and can see right through many of these techniques. The "at" "dot" one does not work. You need to be sneakier. Think about it, If they have facial recognition software to identify faces out of pictures, they for sure can figure out a simple obfuscation technique. Google can live translate text, this requires the computer to understand the words. Just switching a number or symbol for the word is not enough.

The best way is to open a second "burner" email account with gmail or the likes and use that one for any publicly available situation. They are free. If it gets too be getting crazy, dump the address and start a new one. You can set up mail forward for trusted mails to your real inbox. The gmail app will let you have multiple accounts configured and switch between very easy. I have 5 gmail accounts in total.    All this time your "myname"@gmail.com is still safe.

Btw, If you are Bob@hotmail.com, sorry for all the spam......That was my go-to email to sign up for stuff for years.

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Russ   

While I would certainly never argue with Wiz, I use gmail, and my email address is all over the web, and the gmail filtering system is good enough that I almost never see spam in my inbox.  When I say almost never, I mean maybe one sneaks through a month.  I also don't have any problem with google blocking emails I want, I've never had anyone complain about me not getting their emails.  I don't know how google is so successful at it, at least for me.

I just glanced at my spam filter, there's over 225 "junk" emails in there....from today only! I got 36 emails from addresses that I know why I'm getting them.  Not bad.

Russ

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I use JavaScript obfuscation on web pages containing "mailto:" links. But, as email use falls to the wayside with the rise of Facebook Messenger, I find that contact forms are better for allowing people to get in touch without revealing my email address.

The downside to replying to them is that some of these folks have mail harvesters (spyware) on their computers and don't know it.

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Guest Did my Post go through??   
Guest Did my Post go through??

Hi ... I created a help wanted request but i don't know if it went through?   I did post my email addresses..not knowing that perhaps i was not supposed to do that?

My help wanted stated:  Wanting leather craftsman in the Napa Valley California to create hair on cowhide products... did it not go through??

my name is Claudia C.  

Thanks.. 

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5 hours ago, Guest Did my Post go through?? said:

Hi ... I created a help wanted request but i don't know if it went through?   I did post my email addresses..not knowing that perhaps i was not supposed to do that?

My help wanted stated:  Wanting leather craftsman in the Napa Valley California to create hair on cowhide products... did it not go through??

my name is Claudia C.  

Thanks.. 

Claudia;

I just approved your help wanted post. Sorry about the delay. I am at work in my shop and only check the forum occasionally.

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cseeger   
On 11/29/2016 at 10:14 PM, Russ said:

While I would certainly never argue with Wiz, I use gmail, and my email address is all over the web, and the gmail filtering system is good enough that I almost never see spam in my inbox.  When I say almost never, I mean maybe one sneaks through a month.  I also don't have any problem with google blocking emails I want, I've never had anyone complain about me not getting their emails.  I don't know how google is so successful at it, at least for me.

I just glanced at my spam filter, there's over 225 "junk" emails in there....from today only! I got 36 emails from addresses that I know why I'm getting them.  Not bad.

Russ

I was going to praise the gmail system myself but you beat me to it.  I have the same results, nary a spam message to be found.  In fact, I get so few emails that sometimes I'll peruse  through the spam pile just for something to read and pretend there are lots of people who want to converse with me.  lol   

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Guest Carina Vretman   
Guest Carina Vretman

I just posted an ad and just after that, red your comments about the email address thing.... Can you remove my email?

Carina

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2 minutes ago, Guest Carina Vretman said:

I just posted an ad and just after that, red your comments about the email address thing.... Can you remove my email?

Carina

I fixed you email addy.

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