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How to Protect Your Email List from Bots

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05 Jan 2021

It's been about a year since you started to focus on increasing your email list, and every month since, you've seen a steady high single-digit, low double-digit rise. Not poor, given you're pretty new to the game and just beginning to sort it all out.

You unexpectedly have an explosion of fresh subscriptions out of the blue, leading to a monthly growth rate of over 2000 percent! Moreover, your attempts appear to be eventually rewarded, and things are heading in the right direction.

You begin to find some inconsistencies as you dig into the data to work out which of your efforts on which networks are responsible for this impressive development. However, many people also prefer to use CBT Mass Email Sender for improvising their marketing strategies.

It turns out that this fantastic outcome is not due to something you've done directly, but rather it's a sort of cyber assault you've gotten swept up in. These types of attacks are known as list bombing, whereby a vast number of email addresses are signed-up to multiple lists without the user's permission. We will get up-close and personal with it in this article.

Bomb Lists and What You Need To Know

List bombing refers to the practice of manipulating and attacking signup pages of email lists by bombarding them at the same time with a considerable number of new email addresses. It seems like a rise in signups for you. It's a cyber-attack.

If there is something good about it, you're not the one under threat for these sorts of dangers, but instead, you're used as a vehicle to help out with one. For sure, it's not soothing, but at least you're not the one under direct assault.

During the summer of 2016, without notice, a leading anti-spam group called Spamhaus began blacklisting a growing number of prominent email marketing software providers' IP addresses. The term "list bombing" became significant. It meant for retailers that, since the developer of their marketing tools was barred, they were unable to send out any campaigns.

Spamhaus took this dramatic action to ban reputable tech providers because a vast amount of government email addresses from foreign countries were used to use an automated script/bot to sign up to a growing number of different email lists. This culminated in hundreds, if not thousands, of emails being sent from such email addresses.

In two weeks, one organization had nine individual accounts signed up over 9,000 times, generating 82,000 validation emails. Something is wrong when an anti-spam agency sees these sorts of figures coming from one supplier. Spamhaus has essentially banned "offending" services to protect its clients.

Although when their lists are targeted, it is undoubtedly a significant concern for retailers as an email address used in an attack is no fun.

At its height, every 2-3 seconds, these "subscription" emails came in at a pace of around one new post. Whatever email service you use is virtually worthless at that point. It develops a DDoS-like effect and shut down the inbox for a prolonged period effectively.

And the worst part? Protecting from these types of threats is very difficult since the email lists being bombed are real, and the requests come from too many different outlets simultaneously.

How to identify whether you're being bombed with a list?

Fortunately, whether you're being used for list bombing, you may use a range of telltale indicators to assess. First is the mysterious, dramatic rise of new subscribers described above. Look at the details automatically as it occurs and attempt to find repeating email addresses that signed up to more than one of the lists in fast succession (if you have more than one).

Another warning is to look at the IP addresses used because it's the same one repeatedly. It's fair to assume that it's the intruder, and you can block the IP and erase from your account the email addresses signed by that IP.

A considerable number of .gov or other more exotic top-level domains and email providers is one last thing to watch out for. If you usually get the majority of Gmail or other well-known suppliers of email service signups and then see a turn, it's a vital sign that something is up.

How to Safeguard Yourself from Email Bombing

There are a few things we highly advocate that all list owners adopt ASAP as well as defending themselves from these kinds of attacks:

CAPTCHA On Forms for Sign-up

A CAPTCHA scheme, such as Google's reCAPTCHA, provides an external authentication layer by asking users to solve a challenge until they are subscribing to it. This inhibits the ability of bots and other automated programs to subscribe successfully.

Enable Double Opt-In

It will encourage you to be vigilant in recognizing actual subscribers and decide which email addresses should be excluded from the list. However, getting double opt-in enabled will not shield signup forms from harassment. If anyone does not validate their account signup, do not try to send validation emails to them! Two is the maximum assurance that you can go to.

Although these two measures sound easy, they might have been enough to preventmost of the attacks from making any significant impact. "The (main) concern, according to an expert, "is (was) the badly-run 'open' lists that gladly subscribed to any address without any proof of consent.

Enable double opt-in and now use a CAPTCHA for your email list signups, and in the future, you will save hours and hours cleaning up your lists.And when you're not being targeted explicitly, it's no fun to be mixed up in cyber threats. For you, it causes more work and slows down everything. Fortunately, there are simple precautions that can be taken by both retailers to lessen the consequences of such attacks in the future.Implementing CAPTCHA and double opt-in might not require a lot of time in advance, so when the imminent attacks occur, it may theoretically save hours and hours of work in the future. Be prepared and invite them to go now.

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