An estimated 45.37% of emails sent in 2021 were spam messages, and many of those spam messages were sent through website contact forms.
For site owners, getting rid of form spam is a matter of website cybersecurity, but it also saves time by keeping unsolicited messages out of your inbox.
Before we talk about how to combat form spam, let’s first explain what form spam is.
What is Form Spam?
Simply put, form spam is unwanted messages that are sent through your online forms. Bad actors or cyber criminals may use online forms to send irrelevant links, abusive messages or carry out phishing attacks.
Although web forms have come a long way in terms of security, they still have vulnerabilities that spammers may take advantage of. For example, a spammer may find a way to hijack your website form and send spam emails to others. These messages look like they were sent by your website, so recipients open the message, click a link and land on the spammer’s website instead.
Form spam can be a hassle and a security issue for site owners, but fortunately, there are ways to combat it.
How to Combat Form Spam and Improve Website Cybersecurity
Use Google reCAPTCHA
Adding Google reCAPTCHA to your forms can help combat spam without hurting the user’s experience.
While some sophisticated spambots can break through, reCAPTCHA can successfully block most spam submissions.
Remove Your Email Address from Your Site
It may seem like a great move to add your email address to your website’s header, footer or forms so that visitors or customers can contact you quickly and easily.
However, doing so will invite spam into your inbox.
Spambots scour websites looking for web forms to submit, but they also seek and harvest email addresses to send out spam.
So, removing your email address from your website can help combat spam.
Try the Honeypot Method
If you don’t want to disrupt the user experience, you may want to try the honeypot method. With this approach, the goal is to catch spambots by implementing a hidden form field that’s only visible to spambots.
Small snippets of code add this hidden field, flag the form if that field has a value in it and prevent the form from being submitted.
One advantage of the honeypot method is that it never interrupts the user’s experience and is still highly effective at combatting form spam.
Don’t Allow Links in Forms
It’s not uncommon for spambots to send messages with links. However, you can help prevent these messages from landing in your inbox by not allowing links in your forms.
Add a Question
If you don’t like reCAPTCHA but still want a way to verify whether the visitor is a real person, you can add a question to your form that must be answered correctly. This question can be a simple math problem (such as “6+4=?”) or a text question.
Simply mark the field as required and verify the response before submission to help combat spam.
Form spam continues to be a problem for site owners, but with the methods above and the help of your IT managed service provider, you can minimize or eliminate the number of spam messages that make it through your online forms.