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 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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