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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 6, 2005 10:46 PM. The previous post in this blog was I have no idea. The next post in this blog is All's well that ends well. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Referrer spam attack! Or is it?

One of the peculiar aspects of having a blog is that you're not only a writer, but also a website administrator. If you have your own domain, you pay for bandwidth, and you allow people to come on and write whatever pops into their heads. As a result, there are things you have to watch.

And so it was with some alarm that I determined the other night that I was suddenly getting an enormous amount of traffic from a host of domains, all ending with "" Before the first dot were the names of various radio stations around the country. When I went to my logs and clicked on the referral sources (or, as I've now learned, "referer" as the computer servers know it), you couldn't tell what they were searching for. But if you went to the various "" home pages, you would see that they're all a template, no doubt generated at a single location, that various radio stations use as a site for their listeners to visit. Generic and cheap, but seemingly unique at first glance. And shades of OregonLive and its sister sites in the anemic Advance Publications chain, they're all almost identical.

That was all very interesting to notice, but it didn't solve my problem. The evil hits were coming fast and heavy, and they were landing on various category archive pages on this site. After nearly three and a half years, those archive pages have gotten mighty long. And there are tons of images on them, which makes them a heavy load to send out. If that's a robot spamming me, there's going to be nothing but trouble ahead. It's going to chew up huge hunks of bandwidth, and sully my hit counter with fake traffic.

And so off I went to find a solution. Blocking the IP addresses of the visitors wouldn't work, because the hits were coming in from all sorts of different addresses, and I was sure they were all being faked. The advice I most often received was that I could keep these referrals away by making a modification to a file on my server called "htaccess." It is only with grave, grave trepidation that I mess with such things, but in the heat of yet another battle with spammers, off I went to try to set up a barrier.

Based on various highly technical posts I found on various sites, I came up with a number of different ways that it could be done. But try as I might with my limited technical skills, I couldn't keep the "listenernetwork" hits away. And so I brooded for the better part of two days about how I could save my bandwidth and keep the visits from artificially inflating my hit count.

During all this stewing, I noticed that the hostile searches all landed on the same archives on my site: Family, Food, International, National, and Nostalgia, with the last being the most prevalent. As a temporary fix, I renamed all those archives by sticking a "2" on the end of each name, and deleting the archive page that had each name on it without the "2." Sure enough, that kept "listenernetwork" referrals from making it to my hit counter -- they were still arriving, looking for, say, the "Nostalgia" archive, but instead of seeing any of my pages, they'd get a "404 - File Not Found" error. I was o.k., for now at least.

Still trickling in, though, were a smaller number of hits from various search engines, including Yahoo and a Denver newspaper's site, and on these, you could see the same bizarre search term: "What Manhattan deli served up a corned beef and tongue sandwich called 'Tongue’s for the Memory'?" While trying to figure out what to do to try to block that, it finally dawned on me that maybe that was what the listenernetwork searches were looking for, too.

Yes! Of course! It was that post I had written a while back about Hobby's Deli in Newark! Many of those search terms were in that post! And guess what? That post appears in exactly five archive categories -- the same five that were being hit by the listenernetwork searches. So the listenernetwork attack and the tongue sandwich attack were all part of one and the same evil plot, and they were all looking for the Hobby's piece.

Just for kicks, I ran the search through Google. Tons of hits, including this one as No. 1. Still no clue as to who the evil spammer is, but at last I'm getting somewhere. Then I tried running the search with the word "listnernetwork" up front, and ...

...lo and behold, the scales fell from my eyes. Check it out. It looks as though it's not a spam robot hitting my site at all, but a nationwide internet trivia quiz sponsored by a bunch of radio stations. And all those IP addresses? They may not be fake. Those may be actual radio listeners trying to earn "points" in a giveaway contest.

So what to do now? I'm thinking of taking down the defenses I've been throwing up. If those are legitimate hits, I should let my counter count them -- and just hope I don't run out of bandwidth at the end of the month. But there are so many of them, at so many odd hours, I can't believe they're all real readers. What to do?

Wherever this leads, I'm determined to figure out how to block referrals like this in the future. If "htaccess" will do it, I've got to become more expert at it and figure out how.

One last note: While checking those referral logs, I noticed that the teenagers of America are major bandwidth thieves. All those "MySpace" pages are chock full of images being lifted from other servers via hotlinks. Among the ones the teens liked best from me were this, this and this. But if they are hotlinked to the original places where I had them stored until yesterday, their sites are now displaying this. Clean up your act, kids!

P.S. To answer the trivia question, it's the Carnegie Deli. I've put up this post, with a fake date and an archive category all its own, to see if I can distract the traffic over there. I'll get the hits without the bandwidth drain.

Comments (6)

Interesting post Jack. And I'm sure your message about stealing bandwith will stop the myspace kids from using your pictures. hahahahaha...

a more clever message would have been a picture of Nancy Regan proclaiming "Just say No".

Actually, I believe I've got them all "forbidden" now. They can steal the pictures all they want, but they'll have to show them via their own bandwidth, as they can no longer hotlink successfully to my server.

I did get a sadistic pleasure out of that "revised version." One kid had an image from my server tiled across his page as wallpaper. Wish I could be there when he saw what it looked like after my little change. Dude!


... and you have to keep this blog around, until your daughters become teenagers. Besides suicide bombers, teenagers are the most irrational group of people alive.

MySpace. If there's a bigger cesspool of inanity available on the infobahn, I'm not sure where to find it. They gleefully give Joe Average Nitwit the easy ability to create an wholly-unreadable "home page", complete with retina-searing color combinations and tiled backgrounds the likes of which went out of style... oh, about five minutes after they came INTO style, lo the many years ago. *shudder*

(Disclaimer: I have a MySpace account, but only because my closest buddies in the office have accounts there and insisted I join the collective, as it were. It's much the same with with LiveJournal... I have an LJ so I can comment on LJs.)

I am, however, curious about my website traffic for the first time in ages. Hmm, where'd I put those log processing scripts...?

The problem is that people who do not pay for bandwidth have no idea how much of someone else's they are using when they hotlink an image that will be viewed on a website (like, say, that gets tens of thousands of hits. I make it a rule to only hotlink images from large corporate websites--CNN, Yahoo, etc.

Just a technical point: Contrary to popular opinion, it’s nearly impossible to fake an IP address on a TCP connection. Had those been actual spambots, they would likely have used borrowed*, but real, IP addresses, i.e., when a computer gets taken over by a virus, it allows spammers to post from your computer without your knowledge.

* technical term is “trojanned”


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
MarchigĂĽe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
GascĂłn, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
MarchigĂĽe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2013
Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
Domaines Bunan, Bandol Rose 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Deer Creek, Pinot Gris 2015
Beaulieu, Rutherford Cabernet 2013
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
King Estate, Pinot Gris, Backbone 2014
Oberon, Napa Cabernet 2013
Apaltagua, Envero Carmenere Gran Reserva 2013
Chateau des Arnauds, Cuvee des Capucins 2012
Nine Hats, Red 2013
Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
Januik, Merlot 2012
Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012

The Occasional Book

Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria DermoČ—t - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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