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Web Dev + WordPress + Security
69 posts

How to Block Bad Bots

Suffering from spammers, content scrapers, bandwidth leeches, and other bad bots? Got some loser stalking your chat forum? Site getting scanned by endless malicious requests? In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to block bad bots and users with minimal effort. Keeping the trash away from your site is gonna free up valuable server resources, conserve bandwidth, and improve the overall security and quality of your site. Continue reading »

WordPress .htaccess file

The WordPress core uses .htaccess for two things: Permalinks and Multisite. This means that .htaccess is only required if you have enabled either of these features. Otherwise, .htaccess is entirely optional for default WordPress installations. Beyond the WP core, many plugins also use the .htaccess file for custom directives involving rewrites, redirects, custom headers, file compression, and much more. In many cases, such plugins add their .htaccess rules to your .htaccess file automatically, behind the scenes. Continue reading »

.htaccess Cleanup

Once again I am cleaning up my sites’ .htaccess files. I do this from time to time to remove old redirects, refresh blacklists, and update security and SEO-related directives. It’s tedious work, but the performance and security benefits make it all worthwhile. This post shares some of the techniques that were added, removed, or replaced from .htaccess, and explains the reasoning behind each decision. I do this for the sake of reference, and hopefully it will give you some ideas […] Continue reading »

6G Firewall

After three years of development, testing, and feedback, I’m pleased to announce the official launch version of the 6G Firewall (aka the 6G Blacklist). This version of the nG Firewall is greatly refined, heavily tested, and better than ever. Fine-tuned to minimize false positives, the 6G Firewall protects your site against a wide variety of malicious URI requests, bad bots, spam referrers, and other attacks. Blocking bad traffic improves site security, reduces server load, and conserves precious resources. The 6G […] Continue reading »

6G Firewall Beta

Since releasing the 5G Blacklist earlier this year, malicious server scans and bad requests have surged with more novel attacks than I’ve seen since first getting into this stuff six years ago. In other words, now is the time to beef up security and lock things down. If you’re into monitoring your server and knowing your traffic, you may be observing the same recent spike in malicious activity. In response to these attacks, I’ve been secretly working on the next […] Continue reading »

Blank Space / Whitespace Character for .htaccess

Working on the next version of the G-Series Blacklist, I needed a way to match a wide variety of UTF-8-encoded (hex) character strings. Those familiar with their site’s traffic will recognize this particular type of URI request string, which is typically associated with malicious server scanning, exploits, and other malicious behavior. As I explain in this post, pattern-matching and blocking the blank-space, or whitespace character in URL-requests is an effective way to improve the security of your website. Continue reading »

htaccess Redirect to Maintenance Page

Redirecting visitors to a maintenance page or other temporary page is an essential tool to have in your tool belt. Using HTAccess, redirecting visitors to a temporary maintenance page is simple and effective. All you need to redirect your visitors is the following code placed in your site’s root HTAccess: # MAINTENANCE-PAGE REDIRECT <ifmodule mod_rewrite.c> RewriteEngine on RewriteCond %{REMOTE_ADDR} !^123\.456\.789\.000 RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !/maintenance.html$ [NC] RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !\.(jpe?g?|png|gif) [NC] RewriteRule .* /maintenance.html [R=302,L] </ifmodule> That is the official copy-&-paste goodness right […] Continue reading »

Stop 404s for Mobile Versions of Your Site

If you’ve been keeping an eye on your 404 errors recently, you will have noticed an increase in requests for nonexistent mobile files and directories, especially over the past year or so. The scripts and bots requesting these files from your server seem to be looking for a mobile version of your site. Unfortunately, they are wasting bandwidth and resources in the process. It has become common to see the following 404 errors constantly repeated in your log files: http://domain.tld/apple-touch-icon.png […] Continue reading »

Is it Secret? Is it Safe?

Whenever I find myself working with PHP or messing around with server settings, I nearly always create a phpinfo.php file and place it in the root directory of whatever domain I happen to be working on. These types of informational files employ PHP’s handy phpinfo() function to display a concise summary of all of your server’s variables, which may then be referenced for debugging purposes, bragging rights, and so on. While this sort of thing is normally okay, I frequently […] Continue reading »

Secure Visitor Posting for WordPress

Normally, when visitors post a comment to your site, specific types of client data are associated with the request. Commonly, a client will provide a user agent, a referrer, and a host header. When any of these variables is absent, there is good reason to suspect foul play. For example, virtually all browsers provide some sort of user-agent name to identify themselves. Conversely, malicious scripts directly posting spam and other payloads to your site frequently operate without specifying a user […] Continue reading »

HTAccess Spring Cleaning 2009

Just like last year, this Spring I have been taking some time to do some general maintenance here at Perishable Press. This includes everything from fixing broken links and resolving errors to optimizing scripts and eliminating unnecessary plugins. I’ll admit, this type of work is often quite dull, however I always enjoy the process of cleaning up my HTAccess files. In this post, I share some of the changes made to my HTAccess files and explain the reasoning behind each […] Continue reading »

4G Series: The Ultimate Referrer Blacklist, Featuring Over 8000 Banned Referrers

You have seen user-agent blacklists, IP blacklists, 4G Blacklists, and everything in between. Now, in this article, for your sheer and utter amusement, I present a collection of over 8000 blacklisted referrers. Shortcut: skip the article and jump to Disclaimer and Download » Referrer Spam Sucks For the uninitiated, in teh language of teh Web, a referrer is the online resource from whence a visitor happened to arrive at your site. For example, if Johnny the Wonder Parrot was visiting the […] Continue reading »

4G Series: The Ultimate User-Agent Blacklist, Featuring Over 1200 Bad Bots

As discussed in my recent article, Eight Ways to Blacklist with Apache’s mod_rewrite, one method of stopping spammers, scrapers, email harvesters, and malicious bots is to blacklist their associated user agents. Apache enables us to target bad user agents by testing the user-agent string against a predefined blacklist of unwanted visitors. Any bot identifying itself as one of the blacklisted agents is immediately and quietly denied access. While this certainly isn’t the most effective method of securing your site against […] Continue reading »

The Perishable Press 4G Blacklist

At last! After many months of collecting data, crafting directives, and testing results, I am thrilled to announce the release of the 4G Blacklist! The 4G Blacklist is a next-generation protective firewall that secures your site against a wide range of automated attacks and other malicious activity. Continue reading »

Building the Perishable Press 4G Blacklist

Last year, after much research and discussion, I built a concise, lightweight security strategy for Apache-powered websites. Prior to the development of this strategy, I relied on several extensive blacklists to protect my sites against malicious user agents and IP addresses. Unfortunately, these mega-lists eventually became unmanageable and ineffective. As increasing numbers of attacks hit my server, I began developing new techniques for defending against external threats. This work soon culminated in the release of a “next-generation” blacklist that works […] Continue reading »

Controlling Proxy Access with HTAccess

In my recent article on blocking proxy servers, I explain how to use HTAccess to deny site access to a wide range of proxy servers. The method works great, but some readers want to know how to allow access for specific proxy servers while denying access to as many other proxies as possible. Fortunately, the solution is as simple as adding a few lines to my original proxy-blocking method. Specifically, we may allow any requests coming from our whitelist of […] 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 »
WP Themes In Depth: Deep dive into WP theme development.
Thoughts
Making great strides on my new book. Planned release in December :)
To organize my life, I keep it simple. online: plain text files, offline: sticky notes.
Official list of Googlebot IP addresses.
Lot of 1s in today’s date 20211111.
Working on a new book :)
I enjoy listening to original Star Trek and NG episodes while working online. After a while it feels like I’m working on the ship as part of the crew, going on adventures.
New version (2.6) of my shapeSpace starter theme now available! Always free & open source for everyone :)
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