Blog spam update

Posted on

Well, two comment spams have made it past the spamquestion plugin. This makes me wonder if either the submissions were done manually or whether the software the spammers use is at least human assisted. I guess it's also possible that the spam software is so good that it can automatically work out my simpler arithmetic questions.

The web server logs give some clues. There's literally hundreds of obviously automated POST attempts to various pages on my blog. The requested related to the two comments that made it through however seem far more human however. Here's one example: - [03/Nov/2007:01:41:57 +0000] "GET /blog/Holland_photos_online.1024px HTTP/1.1" 200 11367 "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1)" - [03/Nov/2007:01:42:06 +0000] "POST /blog/Holland_photos_online#comment_anchor HTTP/1.1" 200 14928 "" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows
NT 5.1; SV1)"

These are the only two HTTP requests made for the first spam that made it through; no dumb, repeated automatic requests like some of the other attempts in the logs. Notice how the parent page was visited first and then 9 seconds later the POST was made. That's pretty quick for someone to fill out the form manually but it's possible, especially if the spam body was ready in the clipboard. If their system is partially automated then the short delay is even more plausible.

To test whether some spambots are actually capable of doing simple arithmetic by themselves, I've removed all the addition and subtraction questions from my spamquestion configuration and have added more questions that are harder to answer programmatically. If the spam continues, then I'm going to conclude that there's definitely some human assistance going on. If it stops, then it's more likely that the spambot software was actually able to solve some of my arithmetic questions itself.

I also need to look at is short-term blocking of spamming IPs. When examining my logs I found there had been almost 500 comment spam attempts for just today! I'd rather not be dealing with that bandwidth on my server. Dropping all packets from a spammer's IP for a few hours would slow them right down.

Fun fun fun...