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Building the 3G Blacklist, Part 2: Improving Site Security by Preventing Malicious Query-String Exploits

In this continuing five-article series, I share insights and discoveries concerning website security and protecting against malicious attacks. In this second article, I present an incredibly powerful method for eliminating malicious query string exploits. Subsequent articles will focus on key blacklist strategies designed to protect your site transparently, effectively, and efficiently. At the conclusion of the series, the five articles will culminate in the release of the next generation 3G Blacklist. Improving Site Security by Preventing Malicious Query String Exploits A vast majority of website attacks involves appending malicious query strings onto legitimate, indexed URLs. Any webmaster serious about site […] Read more »

Building the 3G Blacklist, Part 1: Improving Site Security by Recognizing and Exploiting Server Attack Patterns

In this series of five articles, I share insights and discoveries concerning website security and protecting against malicious attacks. In this first article of the series, I examine the process of identifying attack trends and using them to immunize against future attacks. Subsequent articles will focus on key blacklist strategies designed to protect your site transparently, effectively, and efficiently. At the conclusion of the series, the five articles will culminate in the release of the next generation 3G Blacklist. Improving Site Security by Recognizing and Exploiting Server Attack Patterns Crackers, spammers, scrapers, and other attackers are getting smarter and more […] Read more »

Blacklist Candidate Number 2008-04-27

Welcome to the Perishable Press “Blacklist Candidate” series. In this post, we continue our new tradition of exposing, humiliating and banishing spammers, crackers and other worthless scumbags.. Since the implementation of my 2G Blacklist, I have enjoyed a significant decrease in the overall number and variety of site attacks. In fact, I had to time-travel back to March 1st just to find a candidate worthy of this month’s blacklist spotlight. I felt like Rod Roddy looking over the Price-is-Right audience to announce the next name only to discover a quiet, empty room. And then like Bob gets pissed that nobody […] Read more »

How to Block Proxy Servers via htaccess

Not too long ago, a reader going by the name of bjarbj78 asked about how to block proxy servers from accessing her website. Apparently, bjarbj78 had taken the time to compile a proxy blacklist of over 9,000 domains, only to discover afterwards that the formulated htaccess blacklisting strategy didn’t work as expected: deny from proxydomain.com proxydomain2.com Blacklisting proxy servers by blocking individual domains seems like a futile exercise. Although there are a good number of reliable, consistent proxy domains that could be blocked directly, the vast majority of such sites are constantly changing. It would take a team of professionals […] Read more »

Blacklist Candidate Number 2008-03-09

Welcome to the Perishable Press “Blacklist Candidate” series. In this post, we continue our new tradition of exposing, humiliating and banishing spammers, crackers and other worthless scumbags.. Imagine, if you will, an overly caffeinated Bob Barker, hunched over his favorite laptop, feverishly scanning his server access files. Like some underpaid factory worker pruning defective bobble heads from a Taiwanese assembly line, Bob rapidly identifies and isolates suspicious log entries with laser focus. Upon further investigation, affirmed spammers, scrapers and crackers are swiftly blacklisted from future access. For the most heinous offenders, we suddenly hear Rod Roddy’s guzzling voice echo throughout […] Read more »

2G Blacklist: Closing the Door on Malicious Attacks

Since posting the Ultimate htaccess Blacklist and then the Ultimate htaccess Blacklist 2, I find myself dealing with a new breed of malicious attacks. It is no longer useful to simply block nefarious user agents because they are frequently faked. Likewise, blocking individual IP addresses is generally a waste of time because the attacks are coming from a decentralized network of zombie machines. Watching my error and access logs very closely, I have observed the following trends in current attacks: User agents are faked, typically using something generic like “Mozilla/5.0” Each attack may involve hundreds of compromised IP addresses Attacks […] Read more »

Over 150 of the Worst Spammers, Scrapers and Crackers from 2007

Update 2010/07/07: Please visit the 2010 IP Blacklist for more current information. Over the course of each year, I blacklist a considerable number of individual IP addresses. Every day, Perishable Press is hit with countless numbers of spammers, scrapers, crackers and all sorts of other hapless turds. Weekly examinations of my site’s error logs enable me to filter through the chaff and cherry-pick only the most heinous, nefarious attackers for blacklisting. Minor offenses are generally dismissed, but the evil bastards that insist on wasting resources running redundant automated scripts are immediately investigated via IP lookup and denied access via simple […] Read more »

Blacklist Candidate Number 2008-02-10

Welcome to the Perishable Press “Blacklist Candidate” series. In this post, we continue our new tradition of exposing, humiliating and banishing spammers, crackers and other worthless scumbags.. Scumbag number 2008-02-10, “COME ON DOWN!!” — you’re the next baboon to get banished from the site! Like many bloggers, I like to spend a little quality time each week examining my site’s error logs. The data contained in Apache, 404, and even PHP error logs is always enlightening. In addition to suspicious behavior, spam nonsense, and cracker mischief, this site frequently endures automated and even manual attacks targeting various XSS exploits, WordPress […] Read more »

Blacklist Candidate Number 2008-01-02

Come one, come all — today we officially begin a new series of posts here at Perishable Press: the public exposure, humiliation, and banishment of spammers, crackers, and other site attackers. Kicking things off for 2008: blacklist candidate number 2008-01-02! Every Wednesday, I take a little time to investigate my 404 error logs. In addition to spam, crack attacks, and other deliberate mischief, the 404 logs for Perishable Press contain errors due to missing resources, mistyped URLs, and the occasional bizarre or even suspicious behavior of the search-engine robots. Whenever possible, I attempt to resolve a majority of the “fixable” […] Read more »

Ultimate htaccess Blacklist 2 (Compressed Version)

In our original htaccess blacklist article, we provide an extensive list of bad user agents. This so-called “Ultimate htaccess Blacklist” works great at blocking many different online villains: spammers, scammers, scrapers, scrappers, rippers, leechers — you name it. Yet, despite its usefulness, there is always room for improvement. For example, as reader Greg suggests, a compressed version of the blacklist would be very useful. In this post, we present a compressed version of our Ultimate htaccess Blacklist that features around 50 new agents. Whereas the original blacklist is approximately 8.6KB in size, the compressed version is only 3.4KB, even with […] Read more »

How to Verify the Four Major Search Engines

Keeping track of your access and error logs is a critical component of any serious security strategy. Many times, you will see a recorded entry that looks legitimate, such that it may easily be dismissed as genuine Google fare, only to discover upon closer investigation a fraudulent agent. There are many such cloaked or disguised agents crawling around these days, mimicking various search engines to hide beneath the radar. Thus, it is a good idea to implement a procedure for scanning and checking select agents for authenticity. In general, the verification process involves a “forward/reverse” DNS lookup, which is then […] Read more »

WordPress Spam Battle: 3 Seconds that will Save You Hours of Time

In the hellish battle against spam, many WordPress users have adopted a highly effective trinity of anti-spam plugins: Akismet Bad Behavior (404 link removed 2012/06/04) Spam Karma This effective triage of free WordPress plugins has served many a WP-blogger well, eliminating virtually 99% of all automated comment-related spam. When spam first became a problem for me, I installed this triple-threat arsenal of anti-spam plugins and immediately enjoyed the results. Although Spam Karma seemed a little invasive and resource-intensive, too much protection seemed far better than not enough. Even so, during the most recent redesign of the site, one of my […] Read more »

Hacking WordPress: The Ultimate Nofollow Blacklist

Several days ago, I posted an article explaining how to hack your own WordPress nofollow blacklist. Immediately thereafter, I published an elaborate article focusing on automatic methods of nofollow blacklisting via WordPress plugins. In this article, I expand on the original blacklist hack by incorporating functional differentiation between commentator links, trackbacks, and pingbacks. If anything, think of this as an exercise in hacking WordPress, rewarding in and of itself, if not otherwise entirely impractical. Of course, whenever possible, you should avoid hacking the WordPress core and install a plugin instead. ;) Nonetheless, it’s so much fun to hack that we […] Read more »

Hacking WordPress: Dofollow Whitelist for Commentator Links

Before repenting of my filthy “nofollow” addiction, I experimented briefly with a “dofollow whitelist” for commentator URL links. The idea behind the whitelist is to reward frequent commentators, feed subscribers, site patrons, and other guests by selectively removing the automatically generated nofollow attributes from their associated comment-author links. For nofollow enthusiasts, a dofollow whitelist is a great way to show appreciation for people who support your blogging efforts. Now, before we go hacking away at WordPress, keep in mind that there are a few potential shortcomings to this method. First of all, manually maintaining such a list would eventually fail. […] Read more »

WordPress Plugins Featuring Nofollow Blacklist Functionality

Is that spam or are you just trying to comment? Removing nofollow attributes from your WordPress-powered site is a great way to encourage comments and attract visitors. Many commentators will leave useful, constructive feedback, but there will always be a few losers who would attempt to game your generous link love. Fortunately, identifying these mindless link whores is relatively easy. Here are a few priceless examples of actual spam (i.e., linked) comments left here at Perishable Press (links removed for obvious reasons): Work at Home Start earn $150/day right now. Part time work for everyone. Nationwide opportunity Our adress. Part […] Read more »

Hacking WordPress: Nofollow Blacklist for Commentator Links

Previously, in our unofficial “WordPress dofollow upgrade” series, we dished several techniques for removing the antisocial nofollow attributes from default installations of WordPress. After an exhaustive review of available dofollow plugins, we explained how drop-dead easy it is to transform any WordPress blog into a well-standing member of the dofollow community without relying on a plugin to do the job. Our next article detailed a nofollow removal hack selectively targeting pingbacks, trackbacks, and commentator links. Then, we went off the deep end with a robust, threefold hack for sitewide nofollow extermination. Now, in this article, we merge several of these […] Read more »

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