Dirty Rotten Spammers!
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.
About 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.
As 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!