Does My Name Affect How Much Spam I Get?

Most of us tend to assume that spammers focus on the right-hand side of our email addresses — the part after the @. That’s why big companies and webmail services have to filter out so much junk email: a spammer can try it on with zillions of potential victims in one swoop, simply by throwing everything they’ve got at any @hotmail.com address. However, it turns out that spammers could be more subtle creatures than we give them credit for. A paper presented by Clayton at CEAS 2008, the Conference on Email and Anti-Spam held last week at a Microsoft research facility in California, suggests that the text to the left of the @ also makes a serious difference to how much spam you’re likely to receive. Analysing email traffic logs from Demon Internet, one of Britain’s biggest ISPs, Clayton saw a marked difference between people’s spam load depending on their names: specifically, those with names higher up the alphabet were more likely to get spammed than those closer to the bottom. According to his statistics, someone called Alison may expect around 35% of the email she receives to be spam, while Zadie may only get around 20% — even if both use the same email provider

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