Dirty Rotten Spammers!

10

Since the launch of Angie’s Diary in May 2008, we have been under ever-increasing attack by spammers and hackers. Lately, our staff has been inundated with extra work because of it.

It started out with relatively innocent “comment spam”. These comments are made by marketers to attract readers to their websites with a hidden link in their comment or address. A wonderful piece of software (plugin) called Askimet filters most of this type of SPAM and directs it to a kind of purgatory, where these suspicious comments can be checked for legitimacy and eventually be trashed. A member of our staff will be occupied with this for about thirty minutes every day, as we receive 200-500 of these comments on a daily basis. Still, this is a given that we’ve learned to live with.

spamAbout three months ago, some hackers managed to “compromise” the site in such a serious way that it took us days (and many sleepless nights) to resurrect the magazine in all its former glory.

This time we decided to raise our level of protection to a whole new standard. Amongst the various software patches, anti-virus plugins and the like, we added dedicated software to deny automated spambots to access the site. This software checks various online databases to verify if the commenter is blacklisted or uses illegal procedures to connect. If so, access is denied.

This new approach worked fine for a while as it decimated the amount of SPAM. Actually, it still does, but as the popularity of the magazine is on the rise, so is the amount of spammers & hackers and their motivation to do their best to outsmart us, trying to push their publicities and/or do the maximum damage to the magazine.

Since a couple of weeks, we started receiving massive amounts of registrations. Our initial euphoria quickly evaporated as we realized that most of them (you’ve guessed it) were SPAM-registrations. Again we had to raise our security standard, and introduce “CAPTCHA” against this new kind of SPAM coming our way. We apologize for these potentially user-unfriendly measures, but we had no choice.

monty-python-spamAs it is our policy to keep our registration free and public, these SPAM-registrations are made to be able to post all kinds of publicity, cloaked as legitimate articles, often in the beauty & health categories, as well as medical and well-being, but not restricted to those. This presented us with a new logistical problem. How to filter these seemingly legitimate articles from the daily batch of “real” postings? The painful answer is to simply check them one by one…

After struggling with these issues, we applied even more radical solutions to contain this aggravation to a level that can be considered “workable”. Still, the mere fact that we have to spend so much time and effort on a daily basis before we can actually start doing our real job (developing the magazine, reviewing the articles, stories, and poems, searching and creating accompanying visuals etc., etc…) is simply mind-boggling!

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10 Comments
  1. M.F. says

    Mind-Boggling indeed! I had no idea you were under attack in such a gross way.
    My compliments for your “staying power”! Please accept my solidarity.
    MF

  2. Judy Markova says

    Don’t let it get you down! Keep up the good work. I stand by you, always.

  3. StellinaBoccaccio says

    I understand the Spam for publicity, but why are you targeted by hackers?
    Doesn’t make sense to me.

  4. Judy Markova says

    Some people just like to damage others out of jealousy or frustration, lacking the talent to create they resort to destroying the creations of talented artists and their work.

  5. Jack Eason says

    Go Angie go. I’m behind you 100%. While we your contributors keep on informing you of any unusual circumstances and you and your hard working staff remain vigilant, “Angie’s Diary” will continue to grow and be appreciated by the normal people of this world. It’s a shame the hackers and spammers don’t fit into the category of ‘normal’.

    Lots of love to all at “Angie’s Diary”. xxx

  6. Angie says

    Thank you, dear friends, for your words of solidarity and support!

  7. Hannah Schmidt says

    Does the SPAM concept really comes from the Monty Python team?
    Love that!

  8. Gabriel Constans says

    How frustrating. Such a drag. I delete about 600 emails a day that are spam. I don’t think much about it anymore, just do it quickly and make sure not to delete valid and important messages.

    Wish there was some magic all-purpose span energy field you could use, that still let in the legitimate writers, participants, etc.

  9. andrea anderson says

    I am so sorry to hear that.

  10. Rick Carufel says

    Unfortunately there is also software that defeats the captcha features, I know because I was commissioned to write a sales pitch for one such program. It is an endless battle to thwart invasive marketers but it goes with the territory. Some will always get through and it becomes a balancing act between your resources to fight it and the onslaught.
    You, Angie, are doing a great job here and don’t let the bottom-feeders get you down. 🙂

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