Irksome spammers


in Daily updates, Geek stuff, Internet matters

My spam problems have become very acute, with five or so spam comments appearing on commonly visited posts each day. In response, I have kicked up the sensitivity of Spam Karma 2 by a couple of notches. My apologies if this makes it more difficult to leave legitimate comments.

Judging by some of the search strings that are leading people to the site, I think blogs that use Spam Karma 2 are being specifically targetted. I may need to adopt a new system once I get back to Oxford on the 16th or 17th.

[Update: 29 December 2006] I am having two spam problems now. One is annoying and one is just odd. The first is that some spam comments are getting through Spam Karma 2, even with the Akismet plugin. They have karma values of over 1000, which I think must be the result of a clever hack. I changed the page footer with the number of spams caught, to make it less obvious that I am running SK2. The odd thing is that the number of spams caught figure just doesn’t go up anymore. I have no idea why, or how to fix it.

[Update: 31 December 2006] For no comprehensible reason, the spams caught count has started rising again: jumping immediately by forty points. The best thing to do seems to leave it alone.

[Update: 2 January 2007] For some reason, today involved a veritable cascade of comment spam. At midnight yesterday, my filters had caught 870 spam comments. 24 hours later, they have caught 1065. That is 22% of all the comments received thus far, all on a single day. I am impressed that my new combination filtering system (details top secret) managed to catch every single one, without catching any real comments by mistake.

[Update: 21 January 2007] Because of aggressive spammers, I had to disable the ability of people in general to register accounts with the WordPress installation for a sibilant intake of breath. People who want one should ask me by email, and I will set one up on their behalf.

[Update: 15 April 2007] I am surprised to see that I thought five spam comments a day was a large number, back in January. Now, I get more like 50. Thankfully, I have some better protections in place. As such, I am allowing user registration again. We will see how it goes.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

R.K. December 13, 2006 at 12:52 pm

.htaccess is good for foiling spammers. Just Google it to learn how.

Milan December 13, 2006 at 5:54 pm

I have heard that, and will look into it when I return.

Milan December 14, 2006 at 7:42 am

Then why have I seen so much spam going through lately?
Unfortunately, as some of you might have noticed, SK2’s performances as seen from the outside, seem to have dropped suddenly over the past few days. While the bulk of the spam still remains at the door, a meaningful percentage now manages to fly right through SK2’s basic filters. And given the numbers involved, even 1% of all spam attempts is a lot to deal with. There again: SK2’s blacklists learn, and conscientiously flagging each uncaught spam should help keep things under control, but this is still a major quality drop from SK2’s usual performance.

The reason for this sudden burst, is a new breed of spam, or more likely, of spambots. It is confirmed now that some spammers have gotten hold of much more efficient spamming tools. Ones that bypass some of SK2’s strongest filters without trouble.

Also of note is the fact that Trackbacks and Pingbacks are absolutely unaffected by this issue (although a small unrelated bug was fixed in the latter SK2.1 releases and you may want to upgrade again from the site: more on this later).


Milan December 17, 2006 at 11:22 am

I have added the Akismet plugin for Spam Karma 2. Perhaps it will help.

tony December 21, 2006 at 3:51 pm

I used to get hundreds of spam comments each day, and I’ve even wondered if that was what eventually exploded my blog at the start of November. I thought SK2 was deleting them – but could it possibly have been leaving them in the system somewhere?

Since Re-Birth, I’ve used Akismet and so far haven’t been found by the spammers. (I hope)

Good luck!

Milan December 29, 2006 at 10:41 pm


SK2 does keep spam comments, as an archive to check new comments against. Even many tens of thousands of text comments would not take up very much disc space. I doubt they would clog an SQL database too badly, either.

Milan April 15, 2007 at 6:56 pm

Note regarding that last comment of mine:

Keeping too many spam comments in SK2 can make it intolerably slow. Now, I purge them weekly.

Milan April 15, 2007 at 7:10 pm

Note to self:

Keep an eye on this thread.

Milan April 29, 2007 at 10:08 pm

Now, the campaign against spam is being fought on my wiki.

This is especially annoying to have to do from Paris…

Milan April 21, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Tonight, I changed my whole spam and caching regime. I went from Spam Karma 2 (with Akismet plugin) and wp-cache to Bad Behaviour and WP Super Cache.

Please report any problems.

. July 6, 2009 at 10:57 pm

Remember that web site you made years ago?

11 pm, July 6th, 2009

Remember way back when you first got interested in web design? Seems like an eternity ago in web years when I made my first clumsy web sites. Maybe you got started making home pages for friends or a local club. Maybe you helped some people get hosting accounts, set up a quick web site with a forum and a blog and a shopping cart. Ah, those were the days.

It’s easy to forget that many of those old web sites are still online – abandoned, un-maintained, and insecure. Many of them date from the days before web spam was common, so they don’t include any spam protection.

Spammers know this. And they love it. Here’s why:

. August 19, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Matt Cutts from the Web Spam team at Google showcases the good and the bad of WordPress as seen through the eyes of Google, including basics on how Google search works and how you can boost your blog’s results in Google searches.

. November 13, 2009 at 9:58 am

Recovering the Slums of the Internet?

“Brian Krebs of Security Fix Blog analyzed the McColo Spamming one year later and asks an interesting question: ‘How does one renovate and recoup the lost trust to the slums of the Internet and reclaim back all the domains and IP’s that have been blacklisted?’ Indeed, the economic benefits abound when a huge swath of illegal and annoying activity ceases — but given the basic design of the Internet, what happens over the long run to IP space and DNS when hosting companies come and go and vary in their trustworthiness? So too, now Geocities is dead [as a business], but does that still live in your filter list? It still appears in OpenDNS under several policy categories. How, in a few years, will I tell if some Hosting/Colo sold me Whitechapel Road/Ventura Avenue for Mayfair/Boardwalk prices, and no one is going to accept my mail from a former slum? When do you, if ever, roll back the blacklists and filters for ‘dead’ threats and spammers?”

. January 25, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Researchers Claim “Effectively Perfect” Spam Blocking Discovery

A team of computer scientists from the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, CA are claiming to have found an “effectively perfect” method for blocking spam. The new system deciphers the templates a botnet is using to create spam and then teaches filters what to look for. “The system … works by exploiting a trick that spammers use to defeat email filters. As spam is churned out, subtle changes are typically incorporated into the messages to confound spam filters. Each message is generated from a template that specifies the message content and how it should be varied. The team reasoned that analyzing such messages could reveal the template that created them. And since the spam template describes the entire range of the emails a bot will send, possessing it might provide a watertight method of blocking spam from that bot.”

. December 5, 2010 at 7:12 pm

The changing landscape of online fraud
Long life spam
As spammers find their e-mails blocked, they are trying other tactics. Expect no respite

Nov 18th 2010 | from PRINT EDITION

WHEN Mark Zuckerberg, the boss of Facebook, presented its new messaging service on November 15th, he praised one feature in particular: the “social inbox”, which would catch spam or other unwanted messages. “Because we know who your friends are, we can put in really good filters to make sure you only see things you care about,” he said, with unwarranted confidence.

Spammers are moving onto social-networking sites such as Facebook because they find e-mail increasingly unrewarding. Data from Cisco, which makes networking gear, show the volume of e-mail spam began declining slowly in late 2009 (see chart) and by almost half in the past three months, after the authorities disabled spam networks in Russia and the Netherlands.

One reason is that online-security firms have worked on every bit of the chain, from the content of junk e-mails to their sender, with the result that they stop more than 98% from reaching its target. First they blocked e-mails containing suspect words or links. Then they blacklisted addresses used by spammers. In response, senders started using botnets (networks of otherwise innocent computers). But security firms have now got better at spotting patterns in the spammers’ output.

Milan March 29, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Sorry if comments are getting eaten.

I am suffering from an extreme deluge of spam comments (trying to hock counterfeit designer clothing) and I haven’t had time to scan through the hundreds of new items appearing in my spam comment folder every day.

. April 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Twitter goes to court to fight spammers

SAN FRANCISCO – Twitter filed a lawsuit on Thursday in a U.S. court against five websites that it accuses of creating tools for spamming, as the social media firm battles a wave of automated tweets barraging real users with anything from Viagra ads to virus-ridden links.

Often billed as a service to help a Twitter account gain followers, websites can take control of an account, known as a bot, that follows or sends automated tweets at real users in the hope that some will follow the bot back or click through links the bot has sent out.

“As our engineers continue to combat spammers with strong safeguards and technical efforts, today we’re adding another weapon to our arsenal: the law,” Twitter said in a blog post.

Twitter now claims 140 million active users. As its user base has grown, so have bots and spam, emerging as a problem that Twitter fears could dilute the online conversation and irk bona fide users.

. August 21, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Why You Should Kill Your Robot Twitter Followers

It’s for the greater good. Of Twitter. And the internet. And it’s kind of fun. Here’s how to do it.

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