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A veritable avalanche of spam!

This Friday and Saturday, the Talk About Comics forums, where I am an administrator, were hit by what looked like a zombie attack: a flood of spam from a large number of different computers in a very short time. Many of the machines the spam came from were connected to the same ISP, but quite a few were not.
I have never banned so many IP addresses in such a short time, and one of my co-administrators had to ban a bunch more, just to stem the flow. I have posted a thread on the incident on the forums, with a full list of IPs from which spam was posted. If you administer a public system, you may want to know that these are dangerous, and maybe a talented statistician can use this information to reveal where the machine coordinating this attack may have been!

My modus operandi:

1. First I look at the spammed message and add the spamvertised URLs to the word censor, usually replacing them with an obscenity. This effectively neuters the spam and any spams advertising the same URL. This time, I have seen evidence that this technique is working, because quite a few spams had URLs that were filtered out in my last run of additions to the word censor.
2. I look up the IP address, checking if it isn't a shared address from a major internet provider like AOL - banning those would result in many innocent people getting banned. However, if it is a shared address from an ISP that I've never heard of, I will still ban it.
3. I delete the message and start looking for the next one.

The idea behind filtering the URLs is that the spammer will derive no benefit in the form of improved google ranking, even if an individual message is not caught. The "obscenity" under point one serves to make posts filtered in that way stand out so that individual forum moderators will still be motivated to delete them. Besides, we have a bit of a tradition on the TAC forums of using the Word Censor filters to turn swearwords into other swearwords. Also being mean to spammers in the morning helps me go through the rest of the day with a smile and a kind word for everyone.

I was glad, when the work was done, to get some props for the hours of police work I'd put in. That's rare. Still, it caused me to get even further behind with work on Monday's comic (which is almost done, so it's not that bad).


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 3, 2004 6:55 PM.

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