“Bro, will my chances of getting spam emails decrease if I use a complicated email ID? After all, how do these spammers get my email IDs?”
This is what one of my followers messaged me. I liked his logic but unfortunately, that is not how it works.
Spammers don’t manually guess email IDs to send you those spam emails.
Sure, passwords work that way by keeping a long complicated string of alphanumeric characters. However, email IDs don’t work like that.
It doesn’t matter whether you keep a simple email ID or a complicated one. If you remain careless then you are bound to get spammed.
What is the purpose of spamming emails?
Hackers spam for phishing you and steal your data so that they can make money. Otherwise, they simply need your confidential information to sell further.
Now coming to the main question.
How Do Spammers Get Your Email IDs?
1] You Upload on the Web
Whenever you put your email ID on social media websites or job portals, it is openly available for everyone.
Hackers use tools to harvest millions of such email IDs. It’s easy to find words that contain @ symbol on the whole page. Simple algorithm, isn’t it?
In fact, if you upload some document or CV with email ID written in it, it is still easy to read those documents and fetch email addresses. Bots do that for them.
Solution: Try to avoid uploading your official email ID if it is publicly visible. Keep official and contact email IDs separate.
2] Spammy Websites
Do you remember all those fishy websites that have survey forms, ‘spin the wheel’ games or different quizzes?
[You must read: How to Detect Fake Websites?]
You must have even played those Facebook games which tell you the actor that looks like you?
Yes, all those games are mostly email collecting machines. They ask you to log in and play those games. The main motto is to steal your email ID.
If you are playing those games using Facebook then it is even worse. It is fetching literally all your data.
Now why do they collect email IDs? Do monetize their collection by selling that data to third party buyers.
Solution: Don’t fall for such traps. Avoid playing such games using your personal email ID.
3] Hacking Database of a Genuine Website
Websites like Netflix or Facebook ask you to log in using your email ID. No doubt, these websites are genuine and highly reputed.
But what if these websites are hacked? The complete database will be seized by the hackers. So all your data like email ID, password, and even credit card details belong to the hacker now.
Do you want to know whether your data has ever been leaked in some breach or attack?
[Click To: Check Your Email Security]
Bad part? You simply cannot do anything about it.
Solution: Keep changing your passwords frequently.
4] Computer Malware
Most of the pirated software that you use on your PC act as data stealing machines.
[Also Read: 7 Types of Malware]
The companies or hackers that make pirated software do not take all the efforts for you out of goodwill. They are smarter.
You don’t want to pay for the original tools? Cool. We will provide you that for free but give us all the personal data from your device.
It can extract everything including your email IDs, passwords, personal files, images, messages and basically everything that you do on your device.
So, email IDs are just one of the data points for them.
Solution: Buy genuine software copies or find some open source alternative.
5] Buying Data Base
Did you hear the recent news that the data of 267 Million Facebook users have been sold at a price of $600 on the dark web? It had everything.
[Read about: Dark Web]
It might look cheap but the buyers got the email IDs and all the personal data of 267 Million people for peanuts.
[Forbes Report: Hackers Just Sold 267 Million User Profiles For $540]
Not only hackers but many Digital marketers buy such email lists as well. Then they show targeted ads or send spam emails to those people.
[Related Post: Truecaller Business Model]
I am strictly against this because this is not how you run a business. Get a genuine list of loyal subscribers rather than buying such lists.
Solution: Keep changing your passwords frequently. Mark suspicious emails as spam.
6] Fake Unsubscribe Button
Have you ever received an email newsletter that you never subscribed for? Then you quickly pushed the ‘unsubscribe’ button because you don’t want to receive emails from them.
Boom! You unknowingly told the spammer, “Hey, I open every email that I receive. Go tell your other hacker friends to spam me more so that I can have a look on their emails as well.”
These genuine-looking email newsletters are often used to verify the existing email lists so that they can sell the genuine list further.
Solution: Directly mark these emails as spam and delete them from your inbox.
Summary ~ Spammers Get Your Email IDs Using Multiple Ways
- Scraping from the websites where you have mentioned your email IDs
- Data extracting fake websites that ask you to fill all your details
- Hacking the genuine websites with large user base and data
- Pirated software and malware
- Buying or stealing data base
- Making people click on fake ‘unsubscribe’ buttons in the emails
We can say that spammers get your email IDs using multiple ways but most of the ways can be avoided if we remain aware and cautious while dealing with our data.
When it comes to online security, don’t take it lightly. Especially in the times when all your bank details and financial activities are dependent on your emails.