Like everyone who has an email account, I have to deal with spam emails on a continual basis, but I had never heard of spamming a website. Early this year when I started my blog, I was both thrilled and a bit perplexed when within a few hours of posting my first article I had several users subscribe to my website. I was thrilled that I already had users, but perplexed because I couldn’t figure out how they had found my blog so quickly. I thought that it would take a few days for search engines to identify the site and then, because the blog was so new, it would take a while for anyone to find my site and like it enough to subscribe. Then when I checked my first post I found that several of the words in the article were underlined and highlighted as hyperlinks. Clicking on these hyperlink took me to various commercial websites. I certainly hadn’t embedded hyperlinks in my text, so how did those get there? That was my first encounter with blog spammers.
A quick search of internet confirmed my suspicions. Several sites described how unscrupulous individuals invade legitimate websites, especially blogs, turning existing words in text into hyperlinks. Apparently these spammers contract with businesses to drive up the number of hits on their websites which they apparently believe will increase the likelihood that those sites will be prioritized on search engine responses. So these criminals are attacking websites and seemingly legitimate businesses, perhaps unwittingly, are paying them to do so.
I ended up paying good money to my website provider to buy security software to keep spammers off of my blog. So the web hosting companies are making money off of this criminal activity as well. Since installing the software the hyperlink problem has gone away, but spammers continue to subscribe to my blog as new users, evidently before they figure out that they would have difficulty spamming it. I found a website where you can determine whether email address have been blacklisted due to spam activity at http://cleantalk.org/blacklists?record. (Hold down Ctrl key and click to access.)
The number of users who have subscribed to my blog has increase dramatically over time, but when I took the time to check the email addresses of all of my users on the CleanTalk website I found that I had to delete more than half of them because they had been involved in spam activity. Typically the users I deleted were identified as having attacked 30 or more sites and one had attacked 109. Most of the most recent spam users who subscribe to my blog have email addresses ending in @mail.ru. I found that the Mail.ru Group is a leading Internet company in the Russian-speaking Internet markets and I have learned that any new user with a @mail.ru address is probably a spammer. I continue to check all new users for spam activity and eliminate spammers as quickly as possible, but I suspect that some of those I have already deleted are simply establishing new email addresses and trying again.
Given the current wild and wooly state of the internet today, with internet providers and users in nearly every country in the world, I guess it is impractical to believe that this kind of immoral behavior can be controlled. Hopefully, however, internet and web hosting providers worldwide will someday band together to deny service to users and IP address that are proven to engage in destructive internet behavior and threaten to sever connections with any provider who refuses to cooperate and do the same. Even as I write this I am sure that there are readers who will consider me naive and will instantly come up with several technical reasons why that could never work. I would ask them instead to develop mythologies which will work. Any suggestions?