Protecting Your Email Address from Spambots

What is a spambot? Spambots are address harvesting robots that scrape the internet looking for email addresses to build mailing lists. Common places for spambots to collect email addresses include forums, guestbooks, blogs, contact forms and other web pages that contain or display email addresses.

There are several things you can do to protect your email address from harvesting robots. The best practice is to carefully guard your email address. If you are registering for a service, shopping online, or posting a message on a forum, consider using a secondary or even a disposable email address.

Another vulnerability is web site contact forms and HTML links that utilize the HTML mailto function. While the mailto function provides a fast and easy means of enabling email communication from your web site, it also exposes your email address in the page’s HTML leaving the address wide open for harvesting spambots.

Web developers have come up with several methods to improve the security of the mailto function. For example, one method called address munging breaks an address into character strings that can be decoded by the browser using client side javascript. However, more advanced spambots can actually decode email addresses that have been munged.

Ultimately, the best defense for web site contact forms is to use a PHP or ASP script that processes message handling on the server side. For more information on server side scripts that enable secure contact form processing, please visit the link below.