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Disposable email addresses

A few of youze out there are having issues with spam, harassment, and other such tomfoolery that I thought I'd post this as a public service announcement.

Spam sucks. I'm not talking about that spiced ham from Hormel, either. I'm talking about about the unsolicited commercial email. The net is getting saturated with this more and more every day. I do receive a little spam, but I've taken many steps to limit it's growth into my account. The best method I have is the use of disposible email addresses, or DEAs.

What are DEAs? Simply put, they are email forwarders that allow you to track where your email address has gone. Whenever a company asks me for an email address, I give them a DEA. Then, when they send mail to it, that email will be forwarded to my everyday email account with a subtle change in the From field to let me know which DEA was used. For example, LJ has the email on file for me as 8d7774s001 at sneakemail.com (replace " at " with the ampersand -- no reason to help the spammers!). Anyone can send email to this account, and any reply to a posting of mine will be sent to this account. The email will go to sneakemail.com, who manages the DEAs. They will strip the To: and From: lines in the mail, replacing them with my valid email on the To: line and a modified From: that lets me know which DEA this came from. This shows up in my valid email account as From: sender@email.com [rialtus/LiveJournal.com].

Now let me give you a couple of real world example. I have changed my amazon.com account to use a DEA, for fear that they might sell me out. Much to my pleasure, the only emails that I have received via that particular DEA have come from amazon.com and not a third party. They are a trusted site, and I continue to use them. I have also registered with Flipside at some time in the past with a DEA. I have received many and numerous spam messages from that particular DEA, and have instructed sneakemail.com to hold any messages coming into that DEA instead of forwarding them to me. They will hold the messages for a period of two weeks, then delete them. I don't care, because it's all spam anyway, and I know that Flipside will sell me out now. I could have just as easily deleted that email address and be done with their service.

For those of you with websites, think about email addresses you have listed there. Wouldn't it be nice to rotate those through once a spam-bot caught onto it, so you weren't being bombarded with spam? If you were using a DEA, you would just delete the one and create another. A little find/replace later, and your spam from that source is gone.

There are two major companies that provide this service -- sneakemail and MailShell. As I understand it, sneakemail started out as a command line interface, mainly for Unix techs. It's grown up to a web page, but it's not that fast. The one major advantage -- it's free (at least for now). Donations are accepted though. MailShell is a commercial site, and will charge $34.95 for a year's worth of service. The first 30 day trial is free. But with this service, you can actually transfer your domain email (MX record for the techies) to them for even less, and manage all emails through them. I will actually be migrating to this service shortly myself.

I encourage you to visit both of their sites and give them a trial run. It won't take care of existing spammers that have your address, but it will limit your exposure to future spam.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 26th, 2002 04:08 pm (UTC)
The one downside is that because you post to atgs from an e-mail address that is different each time, I don't have your e-mail address accept-ruled and so I don't see your postings. Now I guess I could get round this by being a bit cleverer with a regexp to accept your postings, but I find regexps tricky at the best of times...
Aug. 27th, 2002 08:25 am (UTC)
Actually, you use the same email address for every time you post to Usenet (until the spambots get it, which actually takes a while now). So anytime you see my posts on atgs (which I admit is few and far between), the return email is always the same.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 27th, 2002 08:33 am (UTC)
Re: another alternative
Not in the least. I was thinking about writing another article about things like MailWasher on how to eliminate spam after "they" get your address, so your comment is well timed. =)
Aug. 26th, 2002 11:23 pm (UTC)
I hate to imagine the sorts of problems you folks describe. Maybe it's just me, but I sort of feel comforted knowing there are 37 different methods that can be used to enlarge my penis.

Ironically enough, the spam filter I *do* tends to only filter out one thing consistently: e-mails from Game Show Network. Maybe they know something I don't.
Aug. 27th, 2002 08:36 am (UTC)
*spew* Note to self -- don't read Justin's emails when taking a sip of water unless you want water to come out of your nose.

Aug. 27th, 2002 03:00 am (UTC)
I have found it easier to munge my e-mail address (spam @ sadro . com) [replace spam with dan] and use my throwaway e-mail account for spam.

It costs me nothing, and I can still find out how to stop my baldness and, as Justin said, how to enlarge my penis.
Aug. 27th, 2002 08:40 am (UTC)
*snicker* Yes, that is also one method, and I even used it in my posting (remember the comment on the ampersand?) I used to have a rialtus account at Hotmail and Yahoo just for that reason, but really got a bit peeved because I didn't know who sold me out. Now, I know. =)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )