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Well, there are quite a few ways, but one of ways spammers get hold of your e-mail address is literally by guessing. For instance, say your e-mail address is part of domain "-notrealdomain-.com", and your e-mail address is "me@-notrealdomain-.com", spammers have programs that will generate thousands of combinations of names / domains i.e. "me@-notrealdomain-.com", "you@-notrealdomain-.com", "them@-notrealdomain-.com" hoping that somewhere along line target e-mail address exists. It's really not difficult to do, since a computer can do this over and over again. If you receive one of these e-mails and reply to it, you have just informed sender that they did indeed find a live address. It's all downhill from there.
Spoofing E-mail Addresses
Another interesting tactic is to send someone an e-mail and make it appear as if it came from your address. Have you ever received an e-mail from someone you don't know and don't have in you contact list asking you to stop sending them unsolicited e-mails? Many people experience this problem. Basically, spammer made recipient of spam think you sent it to them. This is called e-mail spoofing and is relatively easy to do. The spammers use mail servers that allow something called "mail relay." This allows them to send e-mails from any source address (even yours) to any target address.
A few things to keep in mind when dealing with unsolicited e-mails and spam:
If you are starting to receive SPAM in alternate languages, check your e-mail client for ability to filter / block SPAM by specifying language types.
If you only speak English, and don't expect to receive e-mail in German, then block it;
If your SPAM filter downloads data from your vendor for known SPAM sites make sure to perform and schedule download to happen frequently;
If you receive e-mail or spam from someone you don't know, do not respond to it, just delete it;
If someone informs you that they are receiving spam from your e-mail address, inform them that it was not sent by you and most likely came from a spammer who spoofed your address. Tell them to just delete it;
Never give out your e-mail address unless you are sure site or organization will be responsible for it's privacy;
If you are going to sign up for something like a news article or other information, read their privacy statement, agreement, and disclaimer before doing so; And
Review entire privacy statement to make sure there are no check boxes or radio buttons on by default. You never know what you are agreeing to.
These are just a few of things you can do to help prevent SPAM from becoming a huge burden. You will most likely not be able to prevent all SPAM from getting to your inbox, but you sure can decrease number.
About The Author
Darren Miller is an Information Security Consultant with over sixteen years experience. He has written many technology & security articles, some of which have been published in nationally circulated magazines & periodicals. Darren is a staff writer for www.defendingthenet.com