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Posted April 8, 2000
Just because I can, I'm posting one of my strategies for protecting my email address and keeping my main email accounts unknown to spammers. It also allows me to easily identify who has been trafficking in my personal information, and allows me to block spam once an address has been "blown".
This approach only works if you have administrative control over the mail server at your domain, which most people who have their own domain names do, often via web access to the server at their hosting service. Even if you do not have your own domain, read on--you may find this makes it worth your while to finally get one--you've been thinking about doing that for a while, right?
For instance, I "own" fullerbecker.com. Any mail sent to a random address (one that does not match an already-existing account) like email@example.com gets forwarded automatically to my main account.
If I needed to give my email address to, for instance, Bozo.com, I'd tell them my address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Then, if the email@example.com account starts getting spam, I will know who to be irritated with--the email address the spam is sent to will ALWAYS show up in the headers, which reveals that someone got ahold of "firstname.lastname@example.org," most likely from Bozo.com because they're the only ones who were ever told that address existed--which, in fact, it doesn't!
Plus, I can ALSO set my mail server to BOUNCE any mail addressed to that particular address! Voila! As far as I'm concerned, no more spam! (If you've been paying attention, you will see that Bozo.com no longer has any way to reach me. This isn't a problem. Think about it: if Bozo.com has given my email address to a spammer, I prefer not to hear from them. A tidy solution.)
Update April 12, 2000
A friend pointed out that some spam has the receiving address concealed, even if you examine the headers. Perhaps so, but when my mail server forwards the message from email@example.com to my real account, it adds on a line in the headers indicating that the email was originally addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your mileage may vary; perhaps it depends on your mail server.
fullerbecker.com - online since April 1999
This page last updated April 12, 2000