Surprising Spam

Have you ever wondered how a SPAM sender got your email address?

For the past 15 years, I’ve used a different email address every time I filled out a webform . This way, whenever I get a SPAM I can look at the address the SPAM was sent to and know how the sender found out about me.

It is interesting to see where the leaks come up. Here is a short list of some of the people who (willingly or unwillingly) ratted me out to spammers….

2BRIGHTSPARKS.COM
AUDIOGO.COM (added 5/6/2015)
BARCODE-US.COM
BMWMOA.ORG
BUYERZONE.COM
CENTREOFTHECELL.ORG
CHECKS.COM
DIRECTV.COM
DROPBOX.COM
DYNACNC.COM
E-COUNTERS.COM (1/9/2014)
ENDLESSPOOLS.COM
FLUKE.COM
FOSCAM.US (added 4/28/2015)
FRIENDSTER.COM (added 6/23/2014)
HOEMDEPOT.COM
INTELIUS.COM
INFOQ.COM (3/1/2016)
IRR.COM
LAPLINK.COM
LEXUSOFENGLEWOOD.COM (added 4/25/2014)
LIVEMODERN.COM
LOGANTURNPIKEMILL.COM (added 2/29/2014)
LOGMEIN.COM
LIFELOCK.COM
MANDARINHOTEL.COM
MAXIMHQ.COM
MORFIK.COM
MYSPACE.COM (3/19/2016)
NYTIMES.COM
NYWATERWAY.COM
RAYANDTERRY.COM (7/30/2015)
REVERSEGENIE.COM
ROKU.COM
SECONDSTAGETHEATER.COM
SEETHROUGHMIRRORS.COM (11/4/2014)
SHAPEWAYS.COM
SHAPESHOT.COM (12/27/2015)
SIDEFX.COM
SIMPLE.COM (3/8/2016)
SMARTBRIDGES.COM
SMITHMICRO.COM (added 4/9/2014)
SOFTWIRED-INC.COM
SOLARWINDS.COM
SPEAKEASY.NET
SPORTYS.COM
SUPERMAGNETMAN.NET (added 2/2/2015)
TICKETMASTER.COM
TRANSCEND.COM
WALLHOGS.COM
WSJ.COM (added 2/8/2014)
ZENBE.COM
ZEVIA.COM

If you’ve ever given your email address to any of these websites, then it is likely that you can thank them for some of the spams you now get every day. I am talking about hardcore SPAM like offers for Viagra, porn, or African money transfers and not just unwanted emails that might be semi-related to the website that you originally gave your address to.

Some of these sites might intentionally sell or give their email lists to SPAMers, but I suspect that many had their lists hacked or got a virus on a machine that has access to their list. Either way, it makes it hard to trust the company that let it happen.

I typically kill a compromised address as soon as it starts getting spam, but sometimes I want to keep getting the real emails from the original website so I’ll go in and update my account with a brand new, unique email address. Sadly, I often soon start getting spams on the new email address, indicating that the leak was not a one-time event.

BTW, I also use a unique hash for the return address on every email I send out. This lets me know instantly whenever anyone I know gets a virus, uploads their contacts to a website that then sends out splash emails, or falls for a Facebook/GMAIL phishing scam. It happens way too often.

4 comments

    • bigjosh2

      Yep. I think LifeLock leaked email addresses during the class action suit in 2010. The settlement was on 4/30/2010 and the first spam was on 6/30/2010.

      They probably gave a list of all their customers to a law firm and someone at there had a virus or sold the list.

  1. Josh

    >>BTW, I also use a unique hash for the return address on every email I send out.

    How do you do this thing?

    • bigjosh2

      Right now it is a combination of some code on running on my local machine and some scripts of the email server, but it would easily be made into a general purpose product where you would just set your outbound SMTP server to point to my service and I do all the work for you. I should have made this decades ago. I can’t believe GMAIL has not done it yet!

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