Apple files patent to fight spam with automated disposable email addresses

To help combat the rising tide of spam, some users have turned to disposable email addresses that can be easily destroyed or deactivated once abused by a spammer. These accounts usually forward mail to a permanent email address without exposing said address to unwanted parties. This saves users from the hassles associated with changing a permanent email address, such as remembering and notifying important contacts.

As it stands, the disposable email system is cumbersome, says Apple, and may require obtaining accounts from sources other than their primary provider. The generated account names are usually easily recognizable and are sometimes not accepted by certain automated online services that block bots.

Apple proposes an automated system that in some embodiments automatically creates and handles a temporary email address, associating it with a permanent non-disposable address. If and when a disposable account is misused, the user can dump it and move on to a new one without ditching their permanent address.

I do this exact thing — create a series of temporary email addresses whose sole purpose is to draw spam away from my main email accounts. This sounds like a good solution.

  • Joseph Blake

    This almost already exists with Gmail. You can put a plus sign and then any text after your username and it will be a valid email address that will still come to you, such as “”. Then, when “+nospam” starts getting spam you can just setup a filter to trash all email sent to that. However, you still expose your real email address and if the spammer is intelligent they could figure out your real email address. An automated system with fully obfuscated addresses would be a nice improvement.

    • lucascott

      That’s what the iCloud system is. You can already create them, if you sign into the webmail. This is just going a step further to make it easier

    • That has nothing to do with gmail. The + pattern is part of the email address specification. This has nothing to do with a separate address, email servers simply ignore everything after the + sign when looking for the mailbox the email belongs to!

  • satcomer

    How about a bigger button in Mail to report SPAM to iCloud to help cure SPAM.