Modern Battles

For the last month or a little more, my main work with this site has been cleaning up the damage from an onslaught of attackers from the outside. Sitting in the dim light of my home office and listening to the thunder outside, it occurred to me that this is what a modern battle between sorcerers would look like.

About a month ago, the spammer traffic increased greatly. Every day brought new comment and forum spam selling prescription drugs and pornography. At first, I would simply delete the accounts and content of the offenders. That worked for a while.

A couple of weeks ago, the enemy would renew their accounts the next day and go back to posting. I changed tactics from deleting to blocking. That kept them from using the same account again. That's when they started creating a large number of accounts with similar names.

Since the names fit a pattern, I could block the related accounts, often before they could post anything. This lasted for about a week before they switched tactics again.

About a week ago, I found on article suddenly had over two hundred comments. Deleting them one at a time would take quite a while, so I went to the underlying database to do the work. Trying to delete the bad comments without removing valid comments took some effort since I had to search through all the comments and try to find the good ones.

Since then, I've tried other techniques. The CAPTCHA has been strengthened on the forms. I've added other software in the background to help fight the spammers. I've researched the IP addresses of the offenders and added them to a blacklist so they will be blocked. That's the part that looked like sorcery, as I set me words and glyphs to block the attacks from mystery fiends in the distance.

If this is a regular spamming incident, it will go away when it becomes more trouble than it's worth. I've managed other websites and the spammers prefer easy pickings.

The concern would be if it is not just regular spammers. If this is targeted harassment for religious reason, it may continue for a while and need stronger defenses. In the past, fundamentalist Christians who tried to hide their mission have contacted me. They asked for either personal contact information or access to more of the site. It is possible such people could direct spam or other people toward the site just to be disruptive.

Regardless of why the attacks have started, the site is defended. The logs of the activity, including IP addresses, are available for potential prosecution or litigation. In the long run, the spammers have nothing to gain by directing their attention here.