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Friday, April 06, 2007

Be Careful How You Spread The Word!

A word of warning to all you bloggers out there. Be careful who you subscribe to. We took onboard a new feed a few weeks ago and immediately started to receive an unprecedented amount of spam email and comments on our site.

Most of the spam was being generated to entice to commercial adult sites and we were getting hundreds of hits per day.

After a few days we decided to remove the link to them from our sidebar and guess what…the spam surge has now stopped completely.

So take care and be aware that this kind of thing happens and that removing the link can in some instances cure the problem.

It’s a pity that some feed sites attract the spammers, we’ve been listed on most of the sites on our sidebar for months, even years, with no problems whatsoever. So don’t let this one incident put you off promoting your blog, just be vigilant.


Blogger AlwaysArousedGirl said...

What was the site, Suze?


Fri Apr 06, 12:50:00 pm GMT  
Blogger Suze said...

This post is not a "Name & Shame" post, just one to inform bloggers that this kind of thing is going on. :)

Fri Apr 06, 03:01:00 pm GMT  
Blogger Alex said...

The other point here is that the site involved may not have been the originator of the spam itself, so naming it would not be fair.

The spam often comes from sites who trawl the feed/listing services for "target sites" and use the web feeds to gather valid post IDs to drop the spam onto. Cetainly we found that although the spam was coming from different robot PCs the posts being spammed were a small subset of those on the blog. This would indicate that the controller (or control program) of th bot-net was serving the post IDs to the bot PCs when the RSS feeds were published, rather than just crawling our site.

In any event breaking the link from the site in question has dropped our spam comments to single figures each day. So whether they were the perpetrator of the spam or unwittingly aiding the spammers the problem no longer exists for us.

Fri Apr 06, 03:09:00 pm GMT  
Blogger Greenwoman said...

Thank you for the heads up! So far I haven't run across that problem...but it's nice to know how it happens. There have been a few feeds I've added to my home page tha t make popup ads appear. When a feed does that I delete it. I find that incredibly irritating!

Fri Apr 06, 04:27:00 pm GMT  
Blogger AlwaysArousedGirl said...

Alex, it makes me hot when you talk like that.


I'm such a novice with things like that. Thank you for the heads up.

Sat Apr 07, 01:47:00 am GMT  
Blogger Tom Paine said...

While I agree the site may not be to blame, if they are the portal allowing the spammers in, then naming them is a public service, which should follow you alerting them directly. Unless they are close personal friends, the fact that their service may be getting hijacked for SPAM is a matter of concern to all.

Tue Apr 10, 09:48:00 pm GMT  
Blogger Alex said...

Tom, I think you've missed the point. If you really are that inetersted in who the site was then simply be aware that they are no longer on our sidebar. If you eliminate all except a recent addition which disappeared very quickly you'll have your answer.

It would not be a "public service" to name the site as the site itself was not hijacked, simply their feed, and that can happen to any feed. A spammer can subscribe to any individual blog, feed or agregator and parse the XML file for links to new posts to drop spam onto.

Even a blogger's own site can be used as a resource by a spammer's crawler/bot. If you leave a link to your site anywhere, on any site on the web it can be picked up and followed back to you. The only way to guard against all such attacks is to never link back to yourself from other sites.

This post is about vigilance and raising awareness of one of the latest ways that comment spammers appear to be using perfectly legitimate feeds, aggregators, listings and what have you to find victims for their spam.

Being aware of how sudden increases in comment spam may occur is the best defence against it, not "naming" sites who are simply innocent victims themselves.

Wed Apr 11, 11:43:00 am GMT  
Blogger Alex said...

Oh, Tom, and just one point that I didn't pick up until I just re-read your comment. Who would have a spammer as friend? They're the scum of the earth.

Wed Apr 11, 11:52:00 am GMT  
Blogger Tom Paine said...

Alex, I didn't miss your point, I just don't agree with you.

First, I did not mean to imply the site you mentioned is a Spammer, so there's no implication you might be friends with one of these scum.

But if a particular feed is being hijacked, however unwittingly, then certainly they should be alerted directly. If they can't or won't deal with the problem (Blogger, for example, has been slow to deal with pirated material), then I believe naming them is neither mean-spirited nor inappropriate. You are free to disagree with my conclusion, but it's not because I don't understand your point.

As to deducing the identity of this particular feed from looking at your own site, please forgive me, but I wouldn't notice that sort of subtle change from sites I visit every day.

Wed Apr 11, 05:36:00 pm GMT  

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