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Cyber Security

I was recently asked to review a website and, if I agreed that it was a hate-filled, defamatory site to write to the web host and request that it be taken down. I did look at it, readily agreed that the site was as claimed, and was willing to write to the web host. But what if the web host actually supported the site, or actually was promoting the site or owned it? I would be giving the website owner my email address. S/he could spread my address to all of his or her friends and soon I would be getting unsolicited emails containing the same material as I was trying to have removed.

My email address is used in dozens of legitimate websites as my identification. It is the address they will use to communicate with me. This is bad practice, but some sites insist that an email address be used this way. If I started to receive emails to that address that were annoying, I could change my email address. That would stop the annoying emails but would also make me visit each of these websites and change the identification email addresses as well. The time spent would be considerable.

There is a simple way around this problem: Create a few disposable email addresses. Use them for shopping or for writing to anyone such as the web host described above. If you start getting annoying emails to that address, just dispose of it.

Active (valid) email addresses are a valuable commodity. Some people collect them to sell to marketers, pornography distributors, hate merchants, scam artists, etc. When you contact anyone on the web or by email, you give them your email address. If it is sold to one of these people, they often use it to create a number of additional addresses.

Just in case an email sender can generate addresses starting with any given address, donít create disposable email addresses in sequence, either alphabetically or numerically, such as,,, or,, etc. Obviously, donít use disposable addresses that are close to your primary address. Using a different number of characters in each address should prevent this. It should be sufficient to create three disposable addresses. If you use these up, you can create more. I made up three of them a few years ago and I am still on number 2.

Consumer Reports has a number of additional tips about cyber security that are well worth a look.


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