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An email harvester is a piece of software that uses various means to collect email addresses from public data. These technologies include different types of bots and spiders that crawl areas or forums like USENET, Craigslist or other web areas to acquire email addresses for mailing lists or spam, as well as other purposes.
An email harvester is also known as an address harvester.
Different types of email harvesters are available, including open-source email harvesters and proprietary pieces of software. They may be transferred or sold on certain “black hat” internet sites. Some were built for specific websites such as Craigslist or Facebook. Those who are looking to collect bulk email addresses can also use things like a directory harvest attack to mine email addresses, or simply buy lists from other parties. The issue of email harvesting and bulk email sending raises concerns about internet privacy and what is considered ethical on the web.