Sunday, October 08, 2006

Do spammers use crawlers like search engines do?

Hello all,

I have been receiving a huge number of spam E-mails in my inbox and I was wondering how these spammers work.

I don't know much about how spammers work and the title of this post might sound crazy. Those who have been following my blog closely might have noticed that I have changed the default e-mail address associated with this blog. The reason was incredible amount of spam in my Gmail inbox. However, Gmail is very smart and it keeps the crap in the crap box (spam folder) but still one thing I do not understand is that how do so many people (assuming that each spam mail comes from a different person/machine) actually pickup e-mail addresses from so many blogs and websites and spam those addresses. It looks like spamming is their sole profession :))

I had only recently removed my original e-mail address, put a new e-mail address in my profile and on the blog and boom! The spam count is running into hundreds already. I was wondering if these guys use crawlers to hunt for mailto: href tags in the HTML code and pickup the e-mail address there in to spam the user's brains out.

Update (8th Oct, 15:23)

I found this article on howstuffworks.com where in its mentioned that spammers use a spidering technology popularly called spambots.

"The second source for e-mail addresses is the Web itself. There are tens of millions of Web sites, and spammers can create search engines that spider the Web specifically looking for the telltale "@" sign that indicates an e-mail address. The programs that do the spidering are called spambots." - howstuffworks.com

Great! What I was imagining, turns out to be old school stuff. Smart spammers, eh?

2 Comments:

:phil: said...

I imagine you've seen something like this?
I did test it in the profile
(did not work, must have @ sign) but not in the main HTML for the template

Vivek Sanghi said...

Ah! thats a nice one. Works gr8 in the wigdets. Did not try the profile. Probably it won't work there. Thanks for the link. Good stuff.

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