‘Honey Pot spam trap,’ a term you’re likely to surmise as being a baiting technique used to trap spammers. It’s a technique used by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and anti-spamming authorities to identify and penalize spammers. The ‘honey pot’ for a spammer is obviously contact details, or more precisely, email IDs. Spammers use harvesting softwares to collect random email IDs from the web, which are filled up by users on different forums and websites. Databases containing harvested email IDs are then sold to innocent marketers (the lazy ones), who seek some fresh new prospects for their email marketing campaigns. At the end of the day, these email IDs get bombarded with marketing emails, which they have never subscribed to and are of no relevance to them. So the next time you find your inbox cluttered with marketing emails, you’ll have a clue about how you have fallen prey to spamming.

Even the best offers will not placate the customer who finds spam in their inbox. However, spamming will hurt the marketer more than it does to a prospector customer. Anti-spam organizations, who have been unrelentingly fighting spam for so long, create and spread email IDs across the web so that they get harvested by spammers in order catch them red handed. If you send an email to these IDs, no matter if you agree or not, you will be booked as a spammer. Beware this honey pot can give you a sour mouthful. This technique is called a ‘Honey Pot spam trap.’

Project Honey Pot:

Project Honey Pot is bad news for spammers. Spammers guffawed all over cyberspace and celebrated their heyday. It was affecting the email marketing industry and people started to hate email marketing, which is and was one of the most effective ways to deliver your marketing messages. Matt Prince and his anti-spam fighters at Unspam stepped into the scene with this brilliant web based Honey Pot network, to identify spammers and the spambots they use to harvest addresses from websites called Project Honey Pot (PHP).

Today, PHP serves various government and law enforcement organizations to fight and reduce spamming. The PHP software installs addresses on your website, which are custom tagged to the time and IP of a visitor (even if it is a bot). If these addresses start receiving messages, obviously it is a clear case of spamming. We will also be able to track the exact time when these addresses were harvested and also the IPs which did that. In simple layman terms, PHP will include email addresses on your website which are invisible to the naked eye (display: none CSS rule), but which bots can scrape. Each invisible email address is a unique email address leading the spammer into the spam trap.

Today Project Honey Pot stands tall as far as combating spam is concerned. In fact, they have even diversified their efforts to defend against other types of spamming. They have taken initiatives to prevent comment spamming and also dictionary attacks. PHP also launched services which leverage the data to allow website administrators to keep malicious web robots off their sites. The stats are in favor of this organization in fighting spam:

Project Honey Pot so far:

Project Statistics (as of June 18, 2016)

Time From Harvest To First Spam

  • Slowest: 3 years, 4 months, 2 weeks, 3 days, 21 hours, 1 min, 31 secs
  • Fastest: 1 sec
  • Average: 2 weeks, 5 days, 11 hours, 49 mins, 41 secs

Harvester Traffic

  • 1.55% of all honey pot visitors are harvesters

Spams Sent

  • 951.9 messages to the average spam trap address
  • 1,700,752 messages sent to the most targeted trap

Spam Servers Per Harvester

  • 414.4 spam servers per harvester


  • 123,004,531 IPs
  • 228,934,209 spam traps


  • 256,773 harvesters
  • 375,028 search engines
  • 106,406,578 spam servers
  • 1,280,557 comment spammers
  • 27,580,502 dictionary attackers
  • 30,896 rule breakers
  • 382,951 bad web hosts

Active (This Week)

  • 3,116 harvesters
  • 137,139 spam servers
  • 5,149 comment spammers
  • 34,760 dictionary attackers
  • 111 rule breakers


  • 2,839,586,684 unique spam messages
  • 5,677,168 unique messages this week

Monitoring Capability

  • 618,345,000,000 spam traps

Top-5 Countries For Harvesting

  1. China (32.5%)
  2. Spain (12.2%)
  3. United States (8.7%)
  4. Romania (4.4%)
  5. Germany (3.2%)

Top-5 Countries For Spam Sending

  1. China (9.3%)
  2. Brazil (8.5%)
  3. Russia (6.8%)
  4. United States (6.4%)
  5. India (6.0%)

Top-5 Countries For Dictionary Attacks

  1. India (10.9%)
  2. Brazil (8.4%)
  3. Russia (7.1%)
  4. China (6.2%)
  5. Vietnam (5.9%)

Top-5 Countries For Comment Spamming

  1. China (31.2%)
  2. United States (15.9%)
  3. Russia (10.0%)
  4. Ukraine (5.5%)
  5. Brazil (3.8 %)
Source: https://www.projecthoneypot.org/statistics.php

You can also be part of the effort to fight spam. Count yourself in by giving your details on the PHP website and agreeing to their policies and agreements. You need to do this to enroll your website in project Honey Pot. If more websites contain the PHP software, the more effective it will be in fighting spam. Basically, PHP is a collective effort by a group of individuals working together to fight spam.

How to drop off the Honey Pot spam list:

It is always recommended that email marketers use services like the ProjectHoneyPot.org, Windows Smart Network Data Services and Return Path’s Sender Score tool to ensure list hygiene.

You can accidentally find yourself tangled in the spam trap in the following scenarios:

  1. You are reusing an IP which was listed in the spam trap.
  2. Your ISP did not play it’s part in preventing spam and complying with the best practices to prevent spamming from the email server you share or are a part of. In such cases, it will be /24 listing and you can request to be whitelisted.
  3. Your IP address has been involved in the activity without your consent or knowledge. Spamming/malware bots do have a way of infecting systems without the operator knowing they are there.

If this not the case you have to check on your email marketing practices because it’s pretty certain you were directly or indirectly involved in spamming. A honey pot are an automated system and have nothing to do with you on a personal level. Since it is possible to get into a honey pot list inadvertently during your email marketing endeavors, the remedies are as follows:

  • You can send a request to whitelist your IP. You may automatically whitelist any IP within the /24 of your requesting IP. Whitelisted IPs will automatically become delisted by bad activity occurring after the whitelisting date. A delay penalty will then be incurred for the next whitelist submission.
  • Remove all those email Ids from your email list who have never clicked or opened your emails for a span of 6 months. ( this is a preventive measure but will save you from hitting a spam trap multiple times)

If you are an email marketer and have been for some time, then you will be well aware of the fact that it is the marketing channel which gives the highest ROI when compared to other digital marketing channels. Emails are personal communication to a customer and spamming exasperate them. As responsible marketers, we should preserve and sustain the channel and join the fight against spam. Happy sending!