A online shop to start is always a span.de thing. To present your own idea to the big, wide world and hopefully make a good turnover with it is the dream of every start-up. But if you make this little beginner's mistake, you'll quickly get more electronic mail than you'd like: The email address unprotected on the website present.
Why provide the email address at all?
Providing full contact details is not only practical. Above all it is obligatory. Only 10 years ago, lawyers who were eager to issue warnings drove countless shop operators crazy with obscure but legally correct claims. Today, providing a complete imprint - and this includes an email address - is part of the basics of online commerce. By the way, this also applies to platform-based shops like Ebay or Amazon-dealer.
Ultimately, however, it is also quite simply sensible to provide a valid email address. How else should a professional customer contact be established? No form of communication is as cheap, fast, direct and comprehensible as a Email.
And what is the danger?
From a wonderfully silly sketch by the British comedy troupe "Monthy Pyhon" an unpleasant side effect of modern communication is derived: Spam. This does not mean canned meat, which was its original meaning, but annoying advertising mails and in the worst case Malware-men who can make a P.O. box overflow. A clogged inbox lets the user overlook the important mails, which in turn is harmful to the Shop is.
The spam-Mail-senders must first get the email address from somewhere. So-called "bots" do this for them. Derived from the word "robots", these are small programs that systematically scan web pages and collect everything that looks like an email. Of course, the "@" is especially telltale. Since this special character practically only occurs in email addresses, the marker for the bot is set sufficiently. But you can protect yourself.
Ten ways to protect the e-mail address
1. avoid the @.
A simple way to disguise your email address is to do without the @ and use a synonym instead. The small A in brackets has become generally accepted for this. It is relatively unimportant which parentheses are used: ; (a) or [a] are equally popular. Instead of the a, the onomatopoeic "ad" is also used. An extended Protection is obtained by replacing the dot by a meaningful character string, for example DOT or DOT. For spam bots this barrier is no longer a problem. Most programs can immediately identify the bracketed A as @.
2. working with images
This Encryption is as simple as it is safe. Instead of a copyable email address, you simply insert a small picture in which it is visible. For the law this is enough. There are spam bots that work with text recognition software. But if the email address is sufficiently stylized, they will bite their teeth out. A little tip: Write the email address in cursive on squared paper and take a picture. But it must still be readable for the human eye.
3. use contact forms
It is legally permissible to use a contact form instead of providing the email address. Here you can formulate and send your request by providing your own contact details. Spam bots still reliably ignore these contact forms.
4. replacement by file URLs and subsequent redirect
With this procedure, no email address is entered at all and an email program is started with the help of a hyperlink. Somewhat annoying about this solution is that a permanently installed email program such as Outlook or Thunderbird must be available. This solution does not work with interested parties who only work with browser-based email communication.
5. concealment by adding characters
6. concealment by hiding characters
Provided it is for the User is recognizable, it is possible to work with quasi false email addresses. The solution Info@fitnessclu.de is legal, if it is pointed out that the "b" still has to be added.
7. obfuscation through dynamic composition of the address
8. concealment of the E-mail-address via CAPTCHAs
The specification of the email address under the condition of entering an encrypted string in a field has proved to be very useful. These non-machine-readable characters are an insurmountable hurdle for spam bots, but can be somewhat annoying for the user.
9. encryption of the email address
The ROT16 procedure is a suitable tool to make email addresses unreadable for SPAM bots. However, it requires some background knowledge. The advantage of this method is that it can add the SPAM bot to a blacklist. This way the website can be protected against further access attempts from this location.
10. do without encryption
Finally, there is of course still the possibility to do without encryption completely. The Readability and Accessibility can be so important in some cases that any encryption is contrary to the purpose of the website. The side effects must be taken into account - especially the cautious handling of all emails that contain a forwarding or an attachment. But if you can estimate the risk, there is nothing wrong with displaying the email address on your Imprint.
Which encryption method to use?
For laymen and people who prefer to deal with the content of their online presence instead of the annoying programming, image, captcha, and contact form procedures are recommended. These are very secure and have an acceptable additional effort for the end user. The replacement of the @ is actually outdated in the meantime. Modern spam bots easily circumvent this hurdle if they are not created carefully enough. Cryptifying email addresses as a brainchild for the interested party, on the other hand, is only partially acceptable to many. Complex encryption procedures or redirects, on the other hand, are only interesting for real programming professionals.
But the arms race between website operators and SPAM mail senders will continue. But sometimes it is worthwhile to take a look at the alleged SPAM. Maybe there will be an interesting offer every now and then.