Many email users ask us why they are suddenly receiving so much spam mail and why they have become targets. When analyzing spam sources, we realize that the victims have also played a part in facilitating the spammers, but Search Engines have made it far easier for spammers to harvest their data and make spamming more effective. This is one of the primary disadvantages of having a search engine, which shows the good as well as the bad. This article discusses how search engines aid spammers to attack your email account with spam.
Email Address Search
To target your email account, spammers must eiter send emails to random email addresses or get a list of your domain's active email accounts. How better to make a list of active email addresses, than to get it straight from search engines. By simply typing "@domain.com" in google, you can get a list of all the email addresses which were indexed by the search engine, on that domain name. This means that spammers have a ready list of active email accounts, which are mostly provided by you itself. Email addresses on the contact page of your website are sure to be active, and are almost always available in search results.
When you visit a conference or trade show and drop in your visiting card in a bowl, the email address on your card is almost always added to the hosts database and is put up on their website or shared with the sponsors of the event. This means that if the database is not secured, it can be misused and fall in the hands of spammers. Many of these email lists are sold to marketing agencies and mass mailing firms and then resold and resold to others again. This process goes on till your email address is finally removed from the list before it is resold.
Apart from gift wrapping your email addresses, search engines also help out with what they do best. They help provide spammers with proxy services and open proxy lists which can be used to mask the identity of the sender so that the spam source goes untraced. Though anti-spam filtering tools are quite effective against these lists, a couple of years back, this was a great way to pump out spam.
Besides all the other factors, search engines help aggregate spammers and get them together on spam forums, mass mailing sites and spammer discussion boards. This enables them to discuss techniques to bypass filtering and tracking software and also exchange tips and tricks for effective spamming. Mass mailing tools and utilities are also easily found when you just make a google search for them. Even mailing databases and spam sending services are available for hire online.
When a hacker discovers a vulnerability or loophole in spam systems, the news spreads across discussion boards and forums like wild fire and everyone is out to exploit the loopholes and send out spam. A couple of years back, mass mailing viruses and tools were also distributed with the aid of search engines to do the publicity and PR.
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