The Obfuscatron!™

A Free HTML Email Address Encoder/Obfuscator!

Drive spambags insane!

Program Update – Two New Features!

Update! Read the What is Spam? essay!

I wanted to put "MailTo:" links on my pages, so that readers could click a link and send me email. But, I really didn't want to let the $@!*# spam harvesters snarf up my address.

I spent a couple of hours searching for an address encoder (sometimes called an address obfuscator, but there is a difference -- read on) to let me create safe email links on my pages. But, I wasn't happy with what I found.

So what did I find?

Two new features: you can now save your address info, so you won't have to retype it the next time you run the program, and, you can have it leave the link text unobfuscated, so that it'll be visible in WYSIWYG editors. Still very compact, it's only 36 KB! 

The encoders I was able to locate fell into two categories. The first type was the web-based encoder. It's very simple to work -- you go to a website, type your address into a form, hit the Submit button, and then wait for the "round trip" to the server and back.  In a few seconds, the web server sends you the encoded text which you then copy and paste into your web page's source.

Call me cynical, but I just can't seem to get real enthused about sending my email address off to a stranger, just so that it can be made private. And with a server-based encoder, that's exactly what you've got to do in order to get your address encoded!

The other type encoder I located was the desktop application. I was leery of downloading executable code from someone I didn't know. I know, I know, I'm cynical. But I'd wager that most of you are just as cynical too! Every couple of days I read about another "exploit", and frankly, I'm too old to gamble.

So, I did what any respectable programmer would do. I wrote my own program!

Remember when I said that there's a difference between an encoder and an obfuscator? The simplest type of encoder merely encodes the address, which, when placed in the HTML source, will work OK in a browser, but be relatively safe from harvesting.

However, more extensive systems -- obfuscators -- will break the encoded text into sections which are reassembled by the browser. A harvester that scans the HTML and decodes encoded text will still have useless garbage. My program encodes, obfuscates, and, for an extra margin of safety, does "something" to the encoded text. You may be able to see what it does, and if you get the source (see below), you'll be able to see it if you know VB. That "something" will drive a decoding harvester nuts.

Of course, since the obfuscated address only exists in the form of a script, you won't be able to see it when you're in an editor like FrontPage®. You need to paste the encoded content into the HTML at the place you want the address link to reside, and you can view it by loading the page into a browser, or, in FrontPage, by clicking on the "Preview" tab at the bottom of your main window.

This is a pretty simple affair; it only does one thing, but, it does it well, and, it's only 36 KB. You can download it in a few seconds, even over a modem!

How small is 36 KB? It's smaller than the screen capture image shown above!

You do need to have the VB6 runtimes installed, but, if you're running a recent version of Internet Explorer, you should be all set.  If not, you can download the runtimes from Microsoft®. You can also view the Knowledge Base article on the runtimes if you're so inclined. [external links will open in new browser window]

You can download my encoder for free and use it on as many computers as you own for personal use. Commercial, governmental, and organizational users require a reasonably priced license for each machine, or a site license. Email me for details using the link below.

So what's the catch? The only "catch" so to speak is that I'd like you to send people here to download it. You may not redistribute the program to others.

Standard disclaimer: no warranty, express or implied; no liability for any problems, direct, indirect, consequential, etc.; use at your own risk. By downloading and/or using this program you agree to this disclaimer and these terms and conditions.

Download the HTML Email Address Encoder.





"Obfuscatron" and  "Drive spambags insane" are trademarks of Ron Schwarz.

All text and images on this page are © 2003, Ron Schwarz. All rights reserved.

Microsoft® and FrontPage® are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.


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ClubVB™, Michi Kogaku™ and Focal Yokels™ are trademarks of Susan Schwarz. (Technical variants such as "MichiKogaku" and "Focal-Yokels" are to be considered identical to the grammatical representations portrayed above.)