There Is No Cat

Groovy '60s Sounds from the Land of Smile!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Taking a dump on the commons

At the moment, my comment spam filters here on There Is No Cat seem to be catching 100% of the attempts. Over the past two days, that's about 230 attempts per day that aren't making it through my system. But the current system is one that requires constant vigilance, and I'm getting tired of it. I'm trying to figure out how this particular spammer's system works; I suspect that maybe it looks for certain parameters in comment fields. So I've replaced the name and id parameters of fields that users can enter to values that are unlikely to be easily associated with a particular type of field; that is to say, the e-mail field is no longer called "email", and so on. If this spammer is parsing my comment field based on common values for the name parameter, it should no longer work, and I can relax for a little while (at least until they catch up).

If you find you have a problem submitting a comment, please contact me with my e-mail form; I've tried to test the system, but I may have broken something.

In the meantime, I'll be exploring ways to improve my e-mail spam filters. My hosting provider contacted me this weekend with the bad news that my domain was attacked with so many spams on Saturday that at one point, there were more than 100 copies of procmail running, dragging down the performance for the server not just for me but for the other uses as well. That's not good. I use procmail to do my spam filtering. Unfortunately, I've taken advantage of the fact that pretty much everything other than a few otherwise-defined addresses shows up in my mailbox to give out a different e-mail address to every web site that asks for one; that way, when spam starts showing up in my mailbox, I can see who it's addressed to and, if possible, shut down that address. It's bad enough when an address I left on a blog at some point is discovered, but it's kind of scary to realize that, for example, the address I used for the brokerage that holds one of my 401(k) accounts (and which I have never ever ever posted online anywhere) has been snarfed by spammers too. If I have to shut down everything except the main, defined addresses, this tactic isn't going to work any more.

I have to deal with this sort of thing offline, too. Local teenagers love to use our wooded lot as their personal dumping ground. I regularly have to clean up their messes of beer cans and empty liquor bottles (and boy, do I wish New Jersey had a bottle law so I could at least make some money getting deposits back on these presents). Today I had the lovely gift of God-only-knows-what in a black garbage bag; I didn't look too close, but in the 90 degree heat, the stench was awful as I dragged it from the end of the property to our garbage can.

If it comes down to it, I'll have to bite the bullet and shut down the e-mail addresses and comments here on the blog (and maybe the entire blog altogether). I've already shut down trackbacks a few weeks ago. This is the sort of thing that drove me away from Usenet in the mid-90s, the increasingly aggressive tactics of spammers. I have a pretty low tolerance for this crap. At some point, it's just not worth the effort to stay a step ahead of them.


Posted at 12:26 AM


Note: I’m tired of clearing the spam from my comments, so comments are no longer accepted.

Oh, that's just depressing.... I hope you don't go away entirely!

Posted by Elaine at 5:34 PM, June 20, 2006 [Link]

So far, the change seems to have worked. And if they find a way around this tactic, I have another one in reserve that shouldn't be too difficult to implement. So no worries for now.

Posted by ralph at 10:06 PM, June 20, 2006 [Link]

The cat gone away entirely, only the cat!

Posted by Mag at 6:20 AM, August 9, 2006 [Link]


This site is copyright © 2002-2024, Ralph Brandi.

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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