Ming the Mechanic:
Comment Spam

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Comment Spam2004-10-01 23:59
11 comments
by Flemming Funch

So, comment spam has begun to be a problem for my blog and for others using my newslog program who have public commenting turned on.

It is obviously automated programs doing it. They're surprisingly clever and circumventing the most obvious ways one would recognize them. But at the same time making mistakes that humans wouldn't do. Poster name or comment filled in as 'room' or 'site', for example. Which gives us a clue that somebody has written a spam program directed at chat rooms or forums. Which is flexible enough to work on blogs too, and figure out what fields to fill in.

Anyway, I've put up several lines of defense now, so let's see if they can get through that.

First I set up a blacklist for IPs. That has limited effectiveness because they manage to post the same spam from a bunch of different rather unrelated IPs. So either the IPs are completely spoofed, or it is done by programs installed by viruses on unsuspecting people's windows computers.

Then, to hinder that a program simply posts the data, without coming from my form, I check the referring page. Oh, easy for them to fake that, so that doesn't guarantee anything either.

Then I put a couple of extra fields in my form which are unique every time, and which both need to be given back, and need to fulfill certain criteria.

I can think of several more things to do, but let's see if that does it first. I'm trying to avoid forcing that one has to register to comment, or that one has to solve puzzles every time or something.

Anyway, it is probably safe to turn public commenting back on.


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11 comments

2 Oct 2004 @ 01:46 by gunter @66.229.145.90 : hardly readable images
There is also that mechanism of presenting a gif with some number/letters that need to be duplicated into an input field. don't know though how smart these spammers are to even ORC these images.
Or use semantics that computers are still having a hard time with. Show a random sentence and then ask a random question about the content.  



2 Oct 2004 @ 02:06 by ming : Tests
Yeah, how about a Turing Test. To see if somebody's really a computer. So, a different riddle each time, like

"I never was, am always to be,
No one ever saw me, nor ever will
And yet I am the confidence of all
To live and breathe on this terrestrial ball.
What am I?"

Well, maybe numbers are better.  



2 Oct 2004 @ 02:32 by Paul Hughes @24.176.188.191 : me too
Hi Flemming. I've been getting about 20-30 spam comments at Future Hi every day. I haev Blacklist installed, which fortunately lets me delete all the nefarious posts at once, but it's still annoying. I spend probably 10 minutes every day going through and deleting spam. It may not seem like a lot, but it feels like a huge hassel. I keep thinking that eventually my blacklist will become so complete that it will be far and few between, but instead they just getting more clever. An arms race it is. hmmm, I keep hoping that eventually it the spam comments will come in as a trickle.  


2 Oct 2004 @ 04:27 by bushman : Quotes
in my spam emails that get past my spamblocker at my server.

All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child.

Waliki


Well well well!

Friends are like melons shall I tell you why? To find one good you must one hundred try.

Hudar hawala


Anyway, the ones like this have a link to click on, but I dont open them, I open properties to just see any text that might be there, and they are all the same, from a short random email like blabla at bla.com or any mix of 2 letters like .ca or .uk. But they all have a quote like above, always different as well, some Ive seen in NCN before, some I havent heard before. But all having to do with conciousness or thought, all intelectual like or new age-ish. And are directly sent to me as far as I can tell. I used to get ones that had 15 20 recipiants on it. Now just 1 or 2 that get thru to my email past my spam blocker. They always have the same url to click on, sometimes the first part of the url is different, but the rest looks like random numbers, like www somename.com/a4he6d8.... blablamaybethislong/ always the same last half of the url is exacly the same, Id put it up, but someone might click on it, lol.  



2 Oct 2004 @ 13:10 by All things Bru @213.26.168.190 : New (hopefully temporary) Commenting Pol
[trackback]: Yet another time I find myself quite in sync with ming, who is actually fighting against comment spam. Ming the Mechanic It is obviously automated programs doing it. They're surprisingly clever and circumventing the most obvious ways one would recogniz...  


2 Oct 2004 @ 14:10 by ming : Stepping up the war
Ha, no sooner do I post this than another volley of spam arrives and goes right through my defenses. Anyway, I added several more defenses and blocking by the domains they post. And I slow down their operation a bit by making the spam rejection message a couple of megs long, heheh. So, back to you guys.

I just hope the defenses don't have to be so aggressive that it hits some legitimate posters.  



3 Oct 2004 @ 18:29 by ming : Comment Spam
Alright, now that I was working on it anyway, I went a step further. For the unregistered public to enter a comment, one now has to enter some letters one sees on a graphic. I didn't do anything to make them hard to read to fool OCR programs that would try to read the graphic automatically. I seriously doubt anybody will go through the effort. For Yahoo and Hotmail I can understand it. But for our purpose here, I think it is more than plenty protection to do it this way. Anyway, the algorithm I came up with produces some fun words that sound like real words in some language.  


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and so we parted imperceptiblyI am 15 years old started to support his family, had been engaged in a variety of occupation, and accumulated a lot of experience But, what time do not know from the start, Xia Feiyu and me feelings dark life " Go up century ninety time I went to Hainan to work, until two years ago, back to the home  


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