In this post, I will discuss about different types of email address harvesting methods used by spammers and how you can protect your email lists.
Spamware: Spamware is a software which is used by spammers to send automated spam email messages. Spammers first collect email addresses by using different types of email harvesting methods. Then, they add these email addresses to a list. After that, this list is uploaded to a spamware. Then, the spammer will schedule sending of messages to this list.
Ratware: Ratware is a type of spamware where the number of automated email messages sent is in millions. It is used by spammers to send mass email messages to millions of receivers in a single shot. Ratwares uses different spoofing techniques to impersonate the identity of an organization. They provide wrong information in SMTP dialogues by replacing from email address, from name, etc. to confuse the receiver. Usually the receiver will think that the email is from a trusted source and will end up in opening it. However, if they see the email headers closely they will find out that the email is a spam email.
E-mail address harvesting: E-mail address harvesting is a method used by spammers to collect email addresses. There are various methods for E-mail address harvesting used by spammers:
1) Dictionary list: Spammer uses dictionary list which is created by guessing common types of email addresses like info@, contact@ etc. They visit a website and copy the domain names. Usually an organization will have email addresses like support@, info@, contact@. Spammers will simply prefix these common types of email address formats with the domain name of the organization. Then, they send a spam messages to these addresses. For the email addresses for which they do not receive a bounce report, it is added to the dictionary list.
2) Purchasing email lists: It is a common form of email address harvesting where email addresses are acquired by buying email lists.
3) E-mail address harvester: An E-mail address harvester is a software which scans the web for email addresses. When it finds an email address, it simply adds it to the list.
4) By web forms: Several web forms are set up by the spammers to acquire email addresses by offering the users free gifts, etc. A spammer especially creates this fake web form so that he can get the email address from visitors.