If we do our job right, most members here will have no idea how much spam we fight here every day. Normally it's not too much, just a dozen members who have spam links in their profile. But over the last week, DIY Drones, like most of the other networks hosted on the Ning platform, has been hit by the biggest botnet attack we've ever seen, with hundreds of fake member accounts being created every day to post Canadian pharmaceutical ads. The graph above, from this article, shows the rise of these botnet attacks in recent weeks.

The reason members shouldn't know anything about this is because of the heroic work of your 30 administrators and moderators, who have been manually banning these accounts and deleting the posts before they're published (that's why we moderate all posts). The posts can come at the rate of dozens per hour, so this is a big job; I just wanted to publicly thank the moderators, especially Morli and Thomas Coyle for their tireless work in fending off these bots.

Just to give you and idea of what they're dealing with, here is about 30 minute's worth of banned members from today (don't worry; I'm not invading anyone's privacy--those are all bots):



The good news is that Ning is putting in place measures to stop this. Every time we ban a member for spam, that information is propagated throughout the Ning system (they have more than a million network like DIY Drones) and if an account is banned on one network, it will be banned on all of them. But we're up against a botnet of millions of zombie PCs, so sometimes the bad guys get ahead.

Ning just posted the new tactics it will be putting in place to turn the tide: "We have the initial captcha for first time posters now and will be adding a temporary suspension too." Hopefully, this will start to take effect soon and our moderators can take a break. Until then, a huge thanks!

Views: 362

Comment by Paul Mather on March 11, 2010 at 3:34pm
@Sami Finnilä... what I'm asking about is can we fix the problem instead of just spreading the work around to a bunch of people to handle manually.

If they can get to the "source" for the page, then there are lots of options to trick up the spammers.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on March 11, 2010 at 3:39pm
Happy,

I'm afraid we have no access to the code at all. The good news about hosted platforms is that other people can solve your problems for you, with no effort required on your own part; the bad news is that they sometimes don't.

Moderator
Comment by Brian on March 11, 2010 at 9:42pm
With the recent spam attacks has there been a change to general moderation of the site? I posted a harmless (albeit humorous) banter on another's post which I'm following and I got a message saying that the response needs to be approved. In the meantime others have posted replies to the main page... What's up with that!

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on March 11, 2010 at 9:48pm
Brian,

Each member controls how comments on their own posts will be handled. Some choose to moderate them, others do not.

There have been no changes to moderation on the site. As always, blog posts need to be approved by admins; discussion forum posts do not. Comments are not moderated before posting unless the author of the post has selected that.

The only change is the new members have to be approved before they can join the site.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on March 11, 2010 at 9:49pm
BTW, Brian I would be happy to make you an administrator if you'd like. That way your comments wouldn't need to be approved.

Moderator
Comment by Brian on March 11, 2010 at 10:06pm
Well you know that's why I asked, to be informed and edjamacated... I visit this site many times a day and very much enjoy my time here... I've scene IT Authors post stuff, scientists, shoot I saw a short documentary featuring ABE on public tv once and look who is a member! I would love to be an administrator, but not because I don't want my comments to be screened, but to help fight the fight.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on March 11, 2010 at 10:21pm
You're promoted!

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on March 13, 2010 at 11:40am
Just a last update on this: it's been interesting to watch Ning's collaborative filtering algorithms kick in this week. Now as spammers that we missed in the past are banned on other Ning networks, they're banned here too. The weird effect is that our membership numbers have been going down for the past few days, despite all the new (real) members. This is just the result of cleaning out the old spammers, and it should be pretty much done now, but it's surreal to watch software auto-moderate our membership... The good news is that our current 8,200 members are pretty much all clean now, and that growth from here should be legit members only!

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