Referrer spam

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

I had turned off my webalizer stats on this site a long time ago because of the number of referrers I was getting, in hopes that they would go away if there were no actual on-line links that they could get a benefit from by spamming my referrer logs, and after that I pretty much haven’t paid any attention to my log files for months.

Well, yesterday I saw a reference to a freeware program called Weblog Expert Lite. Having had a rather serious issue with the Bravenet counter I was using I decided to give it a try and see how it worked. (Not only was the advertising on Bravenet’s site reaching the point of ridiculously intrusive, I actually got prompted to download an install.exe program that AVG identified as a trojan from one of the crappy ads on their site and that was pretty much the end of that.)

Anyway, I went and grabbed the last week’s worth of logs and ran them through the program. I was shocked to discover that the top 25 referrer sites were all spam. In fact, there were over 10,000 404 errors in one week, compared to just over 1000 page loads of the front page of this blog.

So I dug a little deeper, and discovered that, apparently, there is an army of zombie machines at dozens, if not hundreds, of different IP addresses, requesting the archive of this blog from Feb. 10, 2002 with an incorrect file extension. (.htm rather that the correct .html)

So if my math is correct, for every one legitimate request to view the main blog page, there are 10 spam/error requests. On a much bigger site, that sort of math could also be called a dDos, couldn’t it?

Anyway, I realize now that even though I disabled webalizer, I had left the webalizer folder and the old files up on the site. I just deleted that directory so we’ll see if the spammers learn and move on or not.

Oh, by the way, I switched over to StatCounter, a much nicer and less obnoxious counter service.

Tags: ReferrerSpam

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