Geek Stuff

Trapping Spammers with Honey

This site is now a proud participant in
Project Honey Pot
, a new campaign to thwart one of spammers’ favorite tools. Many spammers harvest email address with spiders that crawl the web sucking up anything that looks like an email address. Project Honey Pot is an innovative effort to trap them.

Project Honey Pot is not the first weapon that is aimed at address-harvesting spiders. Years ago, I installed the popular wpoison script on my server. Wpoison was designed to overload spammers by feeding them page after page full of random but false email addresses, and links to more of the same. The idea was that it would cause spammers to waste so much time harvesting and trying to send mail to all the invalid addresses that it would cut down the amount of spam they could send. It was a nice idea, but I’m not sure how effective it really was.

Honey Pot is more sophisticated. Spiders that end up on the Honey Pot page (which is not likely to be found by humans or well-behaved search engines) will find only a single email address. That address will be unique for each visitor, and the time and IP address of each Honey Pot visitor will be logged along with the address that was displayed. If that address ever receives spam, it can be tied back to the spider that harvested it, which will help identify and prosecute spammers.

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