Tag Archives: Spam

Sequential Email Addresses are Silly

A simple hint for email administrators everywhere. If you have a large number of users with unique sequential ID numbers, it may be tempting to use that ID as a primary email address, or an alias, but don’t do it. It’s an open invitation to spammers to target your users with the minimum of effort. Once they know one number in the sequence they can quickly find two more addresses by adding or subtracting from the first. Before long, with kinderarden maths they’ve guessed every email address and can proceed to spam them all. Today, I was automatically registered for one of Portsmouth Uni’s Google Apps accounts. It comes complete with an email address that is sequentially numbered. As a consequence, having never sent a mail with the account, and having never logged in until today, I found in my inbox, five, beautiful blinking pieces of spam. Years ago when we were setting up the email addresses for vodafone.net, the powers that be in Vodafone were really keen to have your-phone-number@vodafone.net as the email address format. We advised against it, strongly. We did sharp intakes of breath. We did furrowed brows. We did reverse psychology. Everything. The light was seen, and sanity and happiness was maintained, at least for a few months, then they did it anyway. I wonder how those vodafone.net accounts are doing now.

Probable Trust

Right now, there’s limited information on reputable news sites regarding the earthquake/tsunami that occurred south of Samoa yesterday. To find more, I turned to Twitter (and its open source equivalent identi.ca). Disseminating live news from witnesses, moments after a major event, is the most compelling feature of such services, but both failed me. Not in the fail whale sense. Both sites were technically operating at 100% normal status. It was the content. Continue reading

Worst Offenders for WordPress 2.5 – Pre-Alpha

I’m in the process of rewriting the Worst Offenders plugin for the soon-to-be-released WordPress 2.5. Before I make a tested and polished version of the code globally available, I’d be interested to hear from anyone who’d like to alpha test it.

As before Worst Offenders works cooperatively with other anti-spam plugins: its primary purpose is identifying and deleting the comments that are 100% definitely spam (sent by the very worst offenders) so that any “false positives” (sent by real genuine humans) can be rescued from the spam bin! Continue reading

Akismet Worst Offenders Extension

This last few weeks the site has been very heavily hit by comment spammers hawking their usual reprobate websites and wasting internet bandwidth. Akismet has been doing a sterling job of catching this spam and not one message has made it onto the site (I wrote about Akismet’s effectiveness in the pre-launch testing previously). In the bad old days before Akismet I’d have to go through the “unmoderated comments list” in order to find the occasional real comment amidst all the spam, this is no longer necessary, which is wonderful. Comment-Spam-Nirvana has not been reached yet, however. Continue reading

Comment Spam, RIP soon?

A couple of years ago, a web page with an open comment form would have been used for commenting intelligently and considerately on the subject at hand or sending a message to the page author. Then, with the advent of Google’s page rank system, comment forms became the subject of massive misuse, because pagerank gave a higher rank to web pages based on the number of times they appeared on other sites. Spammers would use automated tools to mercilessly link and relink their sites on any and every open form. Having a high pagerank means coming first in search results, which for a commercial site equates to more sales: so comment spamming had rich rewards. Continue reading