One of the first and most annoying things that can happen to a new web site owner is being blasted with spam. There is a dilemma presented when wanting to have potential customers or clients contact you or your company. Either your email has to be publicly posted or you will need to enable a form to allow quick and easy contact. When you do implement either choice, spammers will come and they will do as much damage as is possible.
Email link – bad idea
The first thing that should be done is to toss out the idea of publicly placing your email address in any form that can be clicked as a link. Using a linked email address publicly is an open invitation to spammers. Nothing can be more unpleasant than having to start off your business day wading through hundreds upon hundreds of spam content in your email in-box. If you must use this route, simply place your email in text only – this will make it harder for a potential spammer as they will have to physically copy and paste your address into any email. Inconvenience is the bane of the spammer.
Contact form – can be attacked
If you’ve decided to place a contact form anywhere within your web site, you’ll want to enable some type of security to ensure that an actual human is utilizing the form. This sounds simple enough because, after all, the purpose of the form is to gather human information. However, most email forms have a standard “name”, “email”, “subject”, “content” style to them that is easily recognized and exploited by spammers. Using this standard information, spammers use automated systems to attack a contact form – computer to computer. What can stump them is requiring something that only a human can input or answer and that isn’t part of the standard email form. This is where Captcha comes in.
Contact form with Captcha – better idea
Captcha is a type of test that is used to ensure human interaction. The premise behind Captcha is that computers should not be able to solve something that requires human input. The very early implementations of Captcha were simple generations of a word or series of letters with some small amount of warping. However, spammers quickly adjusted to this warping and this initial Captcha implementation had to be abandoned. Modern Captcha uses two to three regular words that are segmented and have lines through the words making it much more difficult to automatically guess via a computer system.
Of course, the simplest way to avoid spammers at all is by not allowing any sort of email contact within your site. But this is not a feasible option – after all, you have your web site online for the purpose of contacting new and old customers or clients. So, before putting your email form online, use a bit of quick security and incorporate Captcha.