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

[ 3G Stormtroopers (Blue Dream) ]

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 […] Continue reading »

Universal www-Canonicalization via htaccess

[ Universal www-Canonicalization via htaccess ]

During my previous rendezvous involving comprehensive canonicalization for WordPress, I offer my personally customized technique for ensuring consistently precise and accurate URL delivery. That particular method targets WordPress exclusively (although the logic could be manipulated for general use), and requires a bit of editing to adapt the code to each particular configuration. In this follow-up tutorial, I present a basic www-canonicalization technique that accomplishes the following: Continue reading »

Blacklist Candidate Number 2008-04-27

[ Photo: Bob Barker Snarls at Rod Roddy ]

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 […] Continue reading »

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. Here is the ineffective htaccess directive that was used: Deny from proxydomain.com proxydomain2.com Blacklisting proxy servers by blocking individual domains seems like a futile exercise. Although there are […] Continue reading »

Custom HTTP Errors via htaccess

We all know how important it is to deliver sensible, helpful 404 error pages to our visitors. There are many ways of achieving this functionality, including the well-known htaccess trick used to locally redirect users to custom error pages: # htaccess custom error pages ErrorDocument 400 /errors/400.html ErrorDocument 401 /errors/401.html ErrorDocument 403 /errors/403.html ErrorDocument 404 /errors/404.html ErrorDocument 500 /errors/500.html ..and so on. These directives basically tell Apache to deliver the designated documents for their associated error types. Many webmasters and […] Continue reading »

Blacklist Candidate Number 2008-03-09

[ Photo: Bob Barker Pointing at You ]

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 […] Continue reading »

Blacklist Candidate Number 2008-02-10

[ Photo: Bob Barker points a finger ]

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.. 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 […] Continue reading »

Blacklist Candidate Number 2008-01-02

[ Photo: Bob Barker Pointing ]

Welcome to the Perishable Press “Blacklist Candidate” series! In this first post, we begin a new tradition of exposing, humiliating and banishing spammers, crackers and other worthless scumbags.. 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 […] Continue reading »

How to Enable PHP Error Logging via htaccess

In this brief tutorial, I will show Apache users how to suppress PHP errors from visitors and enable PHP error logging via htaccess. Tracking your site’s PHP errors is an excellent way to manage and troubleshoot unexpected issues related to plugins and themes. Even better, monitoring PHP errors behind the scenes via private log is far better than trying to catch them as they appear at random visits. Thanks to the magical powers of htaccess, there is an easy way […] Continue reading »

Three Ways to Allow Hotlinking in Specific Directories

After implementing any of the hotlink-prevention techniques described in our previous article, you may find it necessary to disable hotlink-protection for a specific directory. By default, htaccess rules apply to the directory in which it is located, as well as all subdirectories contained therein. There are (at least) three ways to enable selective hotlinking: Place hotlink images in an alternate directory This method works great if your hotlink-protection rules are located in a directory other than the site root. Simply […] Continue reading »

Stupid htaccess Trick: Enable File or Directory Access to Your Password-Protected Site

In this brief tutorial, we are going to enable users to access any file or directory of a site that is password-protected via htaccess. There are many reasons for wanting to employ this technique, including: Share public resources from an otherwise private site Enable visitors to access content during site maintenance Testing and formatting of layout and design during development As a webmaster, I have used this technique on several occasions. This trick works great for allowing access to any […] Continue reading »

Ultimate .htaccess Blacklist 2: Compressed Version

[ Image: Lunar Eclipse ]

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. Continue reading »

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 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 […] Continue reading »

htaccess Combo Pack: WordPress Permalinks and non-www Redirect

WordPress users employing permalinks via htaccess to optimize their dynamic URLs transform complicated-looking links such as: http://example.com/blog/index.php?page=33 ..into search-engine friendly links such as: http://example.com/blog/post-title/ Every rewritten URL relies on a common set of htaccess rules to transform the links. The htaccess rules for all WordPress permalinks look like this for root WP installations: # BEGIN WordPress <ifmodule mod_rewrite.c> RewriteEngine On RewriteBase / RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d RewriteRule . /index.php [L] </ifmodule> # END WordPress ..and like this for […] Continue reading »

Eliminate 404 Errors for PHP Functions

Recently, I discussed the suspicious behavior recently observed by the Yahoo! Slurp crawler. As revealed by the site’s closely watched 404-error logs, Yahoo! had been requesting a series of nonexistent resources. Although a majority of the 404 errors were exclusive to the Slurp crawler, there were several instances of requests that were also coming from Google, Live, and even Ask. Initially, these distinct errors were misdiagnosed as existing URLs appended with various JavaScript functions. Here are a few typical examples […] Continue reading »

Temporary Site Redirect for Visitors during Site Updates

[ Image: Abstract Mathematical Diagram ]

In our article Stupid htaccess Tricks, we present the htaccess code required for redirecting visitors temporarily during periods of site maintenance. Although the article provides everything needed to implement the temporary redirect, I think readers would benefit from a more thorough examination of the process — nothing too serious, just enough to get it right. After discussing temporary redirects via htaccess, I’ll also explain how to accomplish the same thing using only a small slice of PHP. It’s like two […] Continue reading »

Welcome
Perishable Press is operated by Jeff Starr, a professional web developer and book author with two decades of experience. Here you will find posts about web development, WordPress, security, and more »
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