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Don’t make the mistake of signing up for random websites

Published: Jan 2, 2022

Old man angry at his tablet and two envelopes with “spam” written on them besides that man.

When I first used the internet regularly in 2006 (When I got a laptop), being a 10-year-old child, I did not understand how much of a bad idea it is to enter my email address on random websites.

The problem is not only do websites take advantage of your sign-up by emailing affiliate adverts to your inbox (under vague TOS to avoid officially being spam), but they also will sell your email address as part of a list to spammers.

This was before spam filters got good at filtering spam. They based spam filters on keywords, which were easy for spammers to bypass by simply adding a few dots or spaces to avoid detection.

For example, spammers trying to convince someone to take out a high-interest credit card would replace the word “VISA” with V I S A or V.I.S.A to avoid being listed as spam.

I reduced the amount of newsletters I was signing up for in a round 2012. However, the spam emails only were (mostly) stopped by updates to the email spam filters in more recent years. Removing the spam took literally weeks, as across two email addresses there were around 150,000 to 200,000 spam emails.

Recently, however, someone signed that old email address (mostly disused at this stage) up for a load of newsletters, that took hours to clean up and reveals that the GDPR has not stopped mainly European companies from illegally sharing email address lists. What a pain.

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