Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Beware the Harvester Bots!

Sounds like a scene from a horror movie, but harvester spambots could be spidering your site at this very moment! Harvester bots scan web public web pages (and blogs) for email addresses which they scrape and take back to their evil masters, who then consipire to send you lots of ...SPAM!

Harvester bots also scan messages on Usenet sites such as Google Groups and Yahoo Groups. Mailing lists are easy prey, too.

You may think you've disguised your email address on your blog using "at" rather than "@" and "dot com" rather than ".com," but these bots are smart. If you've become familiar with this system, they have too. Copy what's between the parentheses below and do a quick Google search and you'll see what I mean:

("at * dot")

The solution? Fight back by creating a graphic, clickable or not, with your email address on it (see the one at right). You can create on on Photoshop or use the email icon generator at Nexodyne. There are also some coding fixes out there (Google them) for those of you more comfortable with html and CSS. A third solution is to create a "contact" page with a contact form on it. That way no one has to post an email address. Google to find some applications that will generate the code for you. I've used Response-O-Matic with good results.

Discouraging your readers from leaving their email addresses in comments (giveaways, for example), is a nice thing to do, too.

Further reading:
Email address harvesting

photo by TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via Flickr