Spam Defense: [at] vs. @ in Email Addresses

There's no denying that spamming is quite the shady business. There are a lot of folks who participate in these kinds of activities, often because the start-up costs are minimal, and the return can be swift. There are a number of methods spammers use to obtain email addresses, and although the defenses have become increasingly sophisticated, the battle wages on. This is why, despite your best efforts to keep your email address hidden, you will likely still wind up with loads of junk email.

Address harvesting is as old as the email itself. The most common way for spammers to obtain huge amounts of email addresses is simply to purchase or trade lists from other spammers. However, another common method is the use of automated software, called 'bots' or 'spiders.' Not unlike the software used by search engines to index web pages, these crawlers scrape the web, absorbing mounds of plain text, and delighting when they come across the @ symbol.

For this reason, you should be very cautious about where you decide to post your email address, and if you do, you should never use the @ symbol. Across every web page that HDM builds, you'll notice we use [at] instead. This way, the spiders won't recognize the text as an email address, it won't get added to an enormous list that gets traded on, and you won't be receiving all those unwanted discount travel ads.

There are other measures you can take to try to prevent spamming. It goes without saying that the worst possible move you could make is opening, and then clicking around a spam email. A common scam is the 'Unsubscribe' link which, instead of removing you from any lists, confirms that your address is active. Even if certain images within spam emails are allowed to load on your browser, you could face some trouble.

In the end, spam is almost unavoidable. However, a little caution on the internet goes a long way. For more information on protecting yourself, or if you're simply curious on why we do the things we do, feel free to Contact Us anytime.

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