Why You Shouldn't List Your Email on Your Website
If you own a website, it's likely that you want your visitors to contact you. You also want to make it as easy as possible for them to do it. Whether you have a small community website to organize local events, a blog or some kind of online business, making it easy for your visitors to get in touch is essential to success.
The creation of web forms made contacting website owners much easier and safer than ever. But, some website owners have concerns that people would rather email them directly and not use the form. Because so many site owners want to make themselves readily available, they still include their email address on their website.
It may seem like an innocent step to take, but it's actually very dangerous. Read on to discover the risks you expose yourself to by including your email directly on your site.
What is "Email Address Harvesting"?
At the root of the evil in misusing people's emails is the act of email address harvesting. Malicious internet users, such as spammer and scammers, create simple programs that scour the Internet looking for anything that resembles an email address. These harvesting bots then "scrape" the email address from your website and report back to a database. Here, it's stored along with all the other addresses found.
It's for this reason you sometimes see people listing their email address on the website in a format that looks like this.
john [dot] doe [at] example [dash] domain name [dot] com
However many different methods people use, the bots continue to get smarter and the email address will be harvested.
How Your Email Address Might Be Used
Once your email address has innocently been included on your website and then scraped up and added to the database, it can be used in many ways. Spammers and scammers bulk send emails to their new lists containing spam offers, illegitimate products and so-called "phishing" scams, disguising themselves as high street banks attempting to make people reply back with bank details.
Online security companies regularly report news stories where harvested e-mails are being used by hackers and scammers for profitable gains. They sell them to each other to use in different malicious campaigns.
How to Avoid Your Email Address Being Harvested
As you can see, the threat of email harvesting is very real which is why a number of jurisdictions around the globe have made it illegal in the first place. The methods used by spammers are become increasingly ingenious. It's only a matter of time before one gets through to your computer or website and you're subjected to an attack that slips through the net.
Remember, anywhere you leave your email on the web can be scraped, not just your website. This includes:
- In forum signatures
- Online databases of any kind
- Comment sections of blogs and other websites
It should come as no surprise that a contact web form is one of the best ways to make it easy for people to contact you via your site without exposing yourself to the risk of spam.
How Our Forms Protect You against Attacks
If you're using a 100forms web form, you can remove your e-mail address from the code once you've copied and pasted the snippet to your site. Initially, your e-mail address will be included in the HTML code, but it's just to make that new connection between our servers and your website.
After you've received an e-mail from us with your account details and you can log in, simply head back to the code and remove your e-mail address. Now, you have an effective and secure contact form and robots cannot steal your email information again.