Are You Helping The Spammers?

by Cecilia Chapman on 8 October 2010

in Computers, General Interest


Have you ever received an email that you then ‘forward' on to others?

  • When you send an email do you put the recipients address in the ‘To…' the ‘Cc…' or the ‘Bcc…' option?
  • Just how careful are you about who sees the addresses you have listed?
  • Do you leave details of previous email addresses in the body of the mailing?

If you do any of these you may be unwittingly helping the Spammers! 

You've probably received many jokes by email where the sender has neglected to protect the privacy and identity of previous adressees. Sometimes it is obvious that the email has been forwarded on many times because you can see lists of all the addresses and forwarding information in the body of the email detailing each forwarding instance with full email addressess of all the previous senders/recipients. It really is a spammers paradise to do this!

 When such an email arrives in the inbox of a spammer or other unscrupulous person they are also getting a handy list of names and working email addresses of your nearest and dearest. What they can potentially do with this information might make you shudder.

Spam – also known as junk e-mail, unsolicited bulk e-mail (UBE) or unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE) accounts for 78% of email sent. It clogs the internet and our email accounts. It steals our valuable time and resources when dealing with it. Spam can contain viruses that cause untold mayhem when they take over your computer using it to send out more spam emails or just stop your computer working at all. It can steal your address books and then perpetuate the problem by spamming all your friends and infecting their computers too.

80% of all spams are sent out from virus infected computers.
You can see why having and using good Internet security, Anti-Virus and Anti-Spam software is essential.

When you forward on a joke or any email consider the privacy of the people concerned. In your email software you will have a choice of how to send the mail. You can choose ‘To…' ‘Cc..'. or ‘Bcc…'

What do the email recipients see?

‘To…‘  Any recipients you list in ‘To..' will be able to see the names/email addresses of all the other people you have listed under ‘To..' and ‘CC..' So no privacy here.

‘Cc…'  This stands for Carbon Copy – just like when the old manual typewriters used with carbon paper interspersed between sheets of paper so that multiply copies of the letter were produced. Anyone listed in ‘CC…' will be able to see the names/email addresses of all the other people in ‘To..' and ‘CC..' No privacy here either!

 ‘Bcc…'  This stands for ‘Blind Carbon Copy'. They get a copy but no-one can see they got a copy. Anyone listed here will have their email hidden from anyone else. They will be able to see anyone listed in ‘To..' and ‘CC..' This is the best privacy option and should be chosen for all jokes and most emails unless you are emailing people in a closed group and can be assured of the security, privacy and integrity of the group.

So before sending a message onward you should remove all previous links and email identities. You will not be able to edit the content of a received email until you have clicked ‘forward'. Then you can remove all traces of previous addresses. Once you have done that you can add recipients in the ‘Bcc…' box.

Well done – you are helping to keep the internet safe.

You might also add this to any emails you send out to remind your friends to do the same.

<<Before sending this message to you I have removed all previous links, forwarding threads and sender identities >>
<< Please do the same, before forwarding, to reduce the possibility of junk, reduce spam and safeguard genuine Email users and yourself  >>
<< Sent via BCC to protect your identity >> 
<< Please delete my details if you forward this to anyone >>

Are you a victim of spam?  How do you deal with it? Let us know in the comments box below.


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p mcfarland October 23, 2010 at 3:11 PM

Thanks for making my morning a little bit better with this great article!!

Adwello January 16, 2011 at 9:13 PM

Hi Cecilia, I like your blog here, very good graphics! Spam is a big issue across the net. When I forward a joke email (which is fun and I know people like to receive the best ones) I click ‘forward’ then I go down the text and delete everything except the body of the joke/images. I don’t think the people I send to forward them..

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