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Your first initial can earn you more spam

Posted by todd at 6:17 AM on September 2, 2008

I guess its my own fault for being called Matthew, but my email address (almost all of them) start with a letter that means I get more spam than those with other starting letters. Those letters are “A”, “M”, “S”, “R” and “P”. Email addresses that start with these letters on average have 40% of their incoming messages being spam.

The results of a study by the University of Cambridge and reported by the BBC looked at around 550 million emails going to a British ISP to determine what factors could attract spam and found the link to how the first letter of your address can affect your spam levels

The most popular letters for spammers were “A”, “M”, “S”, “R” and “P”. about 40% of all the messages arriving in the e-mail inboxes of accounts with addresses that had one of those characters as their first letter were junk. Much less popular were “Q”, “Z” and “Y”. For these cases, spam was running at about 20% or less.

Other factors were a bit more obvious, like having email addresses that are susceptible to dictionary attacks and having multiple addresses that are the same name at different domains. What annoys me about this study is that they were able to identify which messages where spam a lot better than my ISP. I might do well to change my name to Ziggy.

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