keeping your email address private

1. Watch Out for Those Checkboxes

When you sign up for something on the Web, there is often some innocent-looking text at the end of the form saying something like: “YES, I want to be contacted by select third parties concerning products I might be interested in.” Quite often, the checkbox next to that text is already checked and your email address will be given to you don’t know who.

To avoid that,

  • look closely at every form you fill on the Web and
  • make sure all relevant checkboxes are not ticked.

Sometimes, the text will read: “NO, don’t give away my email address,” and the checkbox will consequently be unchecked by default. Check it.

2. Disguise Your Email Address in Newsgroups, Forums, Blog Comments, Chat

To avoid ending on a spammer’s mailing list when you post to a web forum or a newsgroup, you can

  • disguise your email address by inserting something obvious into it.

If my email address is, I can modify it to read, for example. I will not get spam at that email address since all messages to it will bounce, but people who want to send me an email can still do so after they remove “delete_this” from the address.

Obscuring your email address does make sending mail a bit more difficult. But this is not always a disadvantage.

f you post your email address to the net, chances are it will fall in the hands of spammers. But even if you never expose your address to a place where spammers may collect it, you will probably get spam.

That’s because spammers apply another technique to find email addresses, too. They simply guess. Given a domain name, spamware will send mails to all kinds of (likely) user names at that address, from aaaronb@ to zzziddyw@.

You can escape this attack of brute force like you can (try to) escape somebody guessing for your password. Try to make your address as difficult to guess as possible when selecting your user name.

3. Long, Complicated Email Addresses Beat Spammers

To beat spammers, use a

  • long email address
  • consisting of more than one word
  • and, preferably, word segments as well as
  • numbers and
  • an underscore.

Of course, there’s no point in constructing an email address that is impossible to guess for you, too, on odyssey to spell over the phone and hard to type fo