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Peter Parker: a smarter than average high school student, often ostracised for being different, and more commonly known as Spider-Man. Spider-Man goes to extremes to protect his identity and if he had an email address in the modern age, he would ensure it wasn’t captured by web criminals. Do you channel Spider-Man and take the necessary steps to protect that which is important to you, namely your email address?
If you don’t know a superhero who is watching over your email, here’s five things you can do to ensure your email address is properly protected.
Give your email a disguise
Superheros often protect their identity through the use of a disguise. We’re not saying you need to dress up in spandex, go out and search for spammers/scammers to beat down, or prevent from getting your email. Instead, you should be aware of how scammers operate – largely by writing programs that search websites for email addresses – and disguise your email from this.
Many programs look for traditional emails like firstname.lastname@example.org, so to disguise your email, spell it out: imthebatmanATgmailDOTcom or, imthebatman(DELETETHIS)@gmailDOTcom. People are smart enough to figure out that the AT and DOT are actually @, . or to delete (DELETETHIS). You’d be surprised at how much this will cut down on spam.
Protect your email’s identity
Aside for a disguise, superheroes will often go to great lengths to protect their identity. You should do the same with your email address. When signing up for a new service, forum, or anything that requires a username, don’t use your email as the username. If possible, don’t use your email address at all.
You should also read the Privacy Statements of all websites you have accounts with. Yes, there is lots of legal speak and they are long, but thats to get the user to scroll to the bottom of the document and hit accept. Look for clauses regarding your email, and note any companies that say they reserve the rights to sell your email to advertisers or aren’t held liable for stolen information, as you can ensure that your email will be spammed.
Beyond that, many websites allow you to hide your email address from other users. It’s highly recommended that you do this and an option to do so can usually be found in the Account Options or Account Security sections of your user profile on websites.
Don’t respond to flashy requests
When a superhero is not out fighting crime, they’re off cultivating and maintaining their alter-ego. They hardly do anything outside of their normal character, and normally won’t respond to flashy requests for super luxury balls (unless you’re Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark of course). If you get an email that sounds too good to be true, such as announcing that you’ve won something spectacular, it’s a good idea to not open or respond to it, as chances are near 100% that it’s a scam or simply aimed at getting your email address or other information.
Get your email a side-kick
Some superheroes have sidekicks that help them fight crime or solve mysteries. We recommend that you get your main email a sidekick and sign up for a separate email that you use for online shopping, forum registration and basically anything that’s non-work/family/friends related.
Take a picture of your email
In numerous Spider-Man story arcs, Peter Parker is tasked with taking pictures of Spider-Man. Of course, being Spider-Man, all he has to do is take a picture of himself and people seem to be happy with that. As many spam programs don’t take information from pictures, it’s a good idea to make your email addresses into a picture that you place onto email signatures, or into the body of the email itself.
The easiest way to do this is open MS Paint, (if you have a windows machine), or an online image creator like pixlr and type your email address into the image, resize so it just fits the font and hit save. The best format to save it as is a .jpeg, as it can be easily read by Internet browsers and email programs. Most email programs will allow you to put an image into your signature, typically done under Settings.
You don’t have to be a superhero to protect your email, just take these precautionary steps and your important email addresses will be as safe as any superhero’s true identity. If you’d like to learn more about staying secure while surfing the Internet, please contact us, and we will come to your aid.
Published on 13th September 2012 by Jeanne DeWitt.