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Attack of the Dictionary! What is a Dictionary Attack?

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Recently we were asked a question regarding what a dictionary attack was. A “dictionary attack” is something that is prohibited under the CAN-SPAM law, and sounds like some sort of b-movie. While we of course know that none of you would ever engage in a dictionary attack, it is good to know what it is.

A dictionary attack is when a spammer will try a bunch of common words to either hit a real email address, or guess a password. So for instance, if someone wanted to dictionary attack the company Spammy Spammers, with a website of, they will try a slew of email addresses to see which one works, so:

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And don’t feel too badly that these spammers have to sit around all day, mindlessly plugging various words and email addresses into their computers – they have a special program that does it for them so that they are free to go off and wreak other kinds of spammy havoc.

And that, is a dictionary attack.

Have a safe and wonderful weekend!

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This article originally written on June 29, 2012, and is as relevant now as when it was first written.