Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

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s_mack
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Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by s_mack » Mon Oct 26, 2015 5:49 pm

I am trying to send customers here as the go to place for 9x info... but im getting a lot of feedback that their ip or username or email has been banned. I've seen the message they are presented with, and it is very aggressive and not very helpful. The wording assumes they are, in fact, spammer which is ridiculous since no spammer bot is going to take the time to read the message, so the ONLY people reading are going to be this wrongly caught in your broad net. This is not effective spam management and really serves only to shrink the user base.

Making it worse... the only option they are given is to email an address that does not exist (it bounces).

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Kilrah
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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by Kilrah » Mon Oct 26, 2015 6:50 pm

With the surge of spam we have to manually clean these days I'd say it's actually not aggressive enough! There seems to be massive spam attacks these days, my email addresses feel the same way.

Anyway I see only 2 blocked registrations in the past month, which were triggered by a well-known 3rd party service. Apparently these IPs have since been unblocked. Pretty typical... i.e. try again.

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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by s_mack » Mon Oct 26, 2015 6:58 pm

2 emailed me just this morning. And how are they supposed to know to just "try again". Dismissing it fixes nothing. This is an issue that needs fixing.

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Kilrah
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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by Kilrah » Mon Oct 26, 2015 7:00 pm

Well, then it will take someone who knows how to fix it, I have access to the admin but didn't see any customizable setting, the spam protection seems to be done by a generic 3rd-party solution.
Maybe contact Rob directly.

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jhsa
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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by jhsa » Mon Oct 26, 2015 7:08 pm

Steven, you won't believe the amount of spam that pass all the anti-spam measures and have to be cleaned by a moderator. It's unbelievable.. In the last few days it got worse.. I do read the posts and ALL that I delete make no sense at all, have links to God knows what.. I even use the translator to see what is in them.. A few even posted some hardcore porno photos.. Yes.. hardcore..

So, I have to agree with Kilrah that we need stronger anti-spam measures, or if possible better ones.. I spoke with Rob about it a couple times and he told me the guys behind the spam stuff are getting smarter..
If we lose control over this it would be a big problem in my opinion..

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s_mack
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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by s_mack » Mon Oct 26, 2015 7:38 pm

Let me word it differently then.

I can accept that spam is a problem. And I can accept that current measures are not effective. But what I'm saying is that the current measures are having too harsh of an effect on non-spam. As kilrah pointed out, it apparently isn't even something you're aware of if it is only reporting 2 in a month and I have received 2 this morning, and I'm not even the guy they should be complaining to!

Long term, obviously better anti-spam measures are needed.

Short term, I think the most imperitive thing is a) MAKE SURE the email people are presented with as a last means of help... WORKS! It is an invalid domain and bounces. b) Don't word the message they are presented with as though they've done something wrong. As I said, the ONLY people that are EVER going to be reading it are false positives. Real spammers aren't people, they are robots. They don't stop to ready the message calling them evil spammers. It makes no impact on them whatsoever. So it should be saying something apologetic and helpful, not rude and accusatory. It goes on to blame their ISP and past owners of their IP... things they have NO reasonable control over.

That's exactly why 3rd party services like that are ridiculous and have been proven as a poor means of controlling spam, since they are reactive and not at all proactive. They block NON spammers who are in the wake of spammers. They do NOTHING to block the spammer before they are "caught". That black list is HUGE and growing and eventually will include every shared IP in the world. Since 99% of normal every day people do NOT have a dedicated IP... that means everyone will be blocked. And yeah, that will eliminated spam. Yay.


PHPBB has always been horrible for spam. It is the largest BB software and it is the one the robots target. I suggested at the very beginning that phpbb not be used for this forum specifically for this reason. That suggestion came from experience.

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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by maz » Mon Oct 26, 2015 11:31 pm

I was caught out by the registration step claiming my IP was blocked (The IP in question (141.101.98.148) belongs to Cloudflare) and was about as far from my ISP allocated IP as you could get.

My assumption at the time was that the Cloudflare IP was being picked up because the page which referred me was hosted on the Cloudflare platform, so after raising a ticket to get it removed with stopwebspam.com or w/e that site is....
I eventually managed to register by navigating directly to the registration page. using copy/paste in the address bar of a new browser session.

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Rob Thomson
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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by Rob Thomson » Tue Oct 27, 2015 1:52 pm

I have established that the admin email needs to be updated.

It's sending to the old 9x forums address.

Will be updated asap.

I know the spam is an issue. There is no magic bullet to fix it... but am working on a plan :)

Rob
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jhsa
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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by jhsa » Tue Oct 27, 2015 2:18 pm

Thanks Rob..

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rperkins
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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by rperkins » Sun Nov 01, 2015 9:27 am

s_mack wrote: PHPBB has always been horrible for spam.
+1

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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by s_mack » Tue Nov 10, 2015 7:21 pm

Last couple days I got another two complaints about users not being able to get in here. Again, it is FAR too exclusive and needs to be fixed! Here's the latest:
I would ask on OpenRCforums but I have never been able to register as it says I am blacklisted even on my first attempt to register and I have no idea how to get them to fix it.

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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by jhsa » Tue Nov 10, 2015 7:52 pm

Steven, Do you have an idea of how many spam posts have I cleaned today? Unless others also start cleaning them as much then please do not lower the guard. Sometimes that s**t show up faster than I can clean them. :(

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rperkins
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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by rperkins » Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:32 pm

has the site been compromised ?
I believe it has happened to a couple other sites hosted by Rob in the past ?
are you on the latest version of phpbb ?

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rperkins
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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by rperkins » Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:51 pm

this forum is on 3.0.12

styles/prosilver/style.cfg
#
# phpBB Style Configuration File
#
# @package phpBB3
# @copyright (c) 2005 phpBB Group
# @license http://opensource.org/licenses/gpl-license.php GNU Public License
#
#
# At the left is the name, please do not change this
# At the right the value is entered
# For on/off options the valid values are on, off, 1, 0, true and false
#
# Values get trimmed, if you want to add a space in front or at the end of
# the value, then enclose the value with single or double quotes.
# Single and double quotes do not need to be escaped.
#
#

# General Information about this style
name = prosilver
copyright = © phpBB Group, 2007
version = 3.0.12

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rperkins
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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by rperkins » Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:53 pm

3.0.14 is the latest of the 3.0.x version
https://www.phpbb.com/downloads/3.0/

here are some public exploits for 3.0.12
https://www.cvedetails.com/vulnerabilit ... .0.12.html

I have no idea how serious these are or if there are others.

s_mack
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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by s_mack » Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:18 pm

jhsa wrote:Steven, Do you have an idea of how many spam posts have I cleaned today? Unless others also start cleaning them as much then please do not lower the guard. Sometimes that s**t show up faster than I can clean them. :(

João
I get that, but workload is a separate symptom caused by the same problem. It REALLY isn't fair to be blocking perfectly honest users in a failed attempt to block spammers! Whatever measures are being taken, clearly are not working... if they were, then your workload would be trivial. So the measures are serving to block USERS while letting in SPAMMERS... is that right?

Honestly, the solution is to either change to a different forum entirely (possible but huge headache) or else keep up with security releases and updates (which means work because there are a lot of them). There *may* be some automated means of doing so, but that introduces its own risks. PHPBB has been broken, in my opinion, for a very long time. One of the trade-offs with open source software... nobody's getting paid to fix it.


I know it is asking for Rob to put in more work to fix this... but it really needs fixing. Or else at least some sort of bandaid because right now new users who are "banned" are given no legitimate method for correcting the situation. Its like getting a busy signal at the crisis prevention line!

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jhsa
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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by jhsa » Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:33 pm

Well, whoever talks about jackets and handbags, and post hardcore porno photos is being banned, at least by me. As I said, sometimes I clean a couple, refresh the "Unread posts" and there are a few more..
Measure to fight this have to be increased in my opinion.. or we will need that more moderators really do what they should. Clean the forum.. I for example check the forum quite often. maybe there are a couple more doing it. But it isn't enough.
Rob said he will upgrade the forum this week, so maybe this will be fixed.
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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by s_mack » Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:44 pm

moderator's job is NOT to chase down spam. That's a sign of a broken forum, nothing more. Keep in mind that *PEOPLE* are not posting spam. Those are simply auto-created accounts by bots trolling forums for security holes. This forum obviously has security holes. Of course you can't keep up. 10 more Joãos isn't the answer. Don't get me wrong... good for you for doing what you can! Really, thank you!

And I don't think this is a case where you've banned good people accidentally. I think its a case where the good people are being blocked by the spam preventions (as opposed to what you're doing, which is spam termination) and the spammers are being shown an open door.

Good that Rob's going to upgrade. That will undoubtedly temporarily patch the problem. It probably won't, however, stop good people from being banned. I *STRONGLY* suggest eliminating the 3rd party ban-based-on-IP service. As I said before, that 100% reactive measure simply blocks good people that have an IP used by once-upon-a-time-spammers who have moved on. It isn't proactive at all.

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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by maz » Tue Nov 10, 2015 10:47 pm

You could try the google reCaptcha (v2) which should prevent bots from being able to post (afik, it's not yet compromised by spam bots)
https://github.com/vinny/recaptcha-2-phpbbmod

It's created by one of the PHPBB team members.

Also 3.1 is out, not sure if it includes it out of the box :p

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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by s_mack » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:00 pm

Everyone hates captchas.... but they can work. I 2nd that suggestion. I say "can work" because they get defeated too. Just have to keep on top of it.

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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by rperkins » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:41 pm

I know a couple years your first couple posts had to be moderator approved. Is that still the case ? If so then howare new spam accounts gettimg their spam onto the forum without moderator approval ?

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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by jhsa » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:43 pm

They are not. I can see them but I think you can't ;) I do not approve them and ban the user.. I think you guys never get to see them.. S_mack can of course..

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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by s_mack » Wed Nov 11, 2015 3:39 am

Either I can't, or you're too quick. I've actually never seen one. But I see the log showing all the ones you do!

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jhsa
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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by jhsa » Wed Nov 11, 2015 6:57 am

Yeah, I'm always checking the forum :)
It's not difficult just have to refresh the page every now and then.
It became an addiction since I've stopped smoking :mrgreen:
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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by Kilrah » Wed Nov 11, 2015 7:06 am

jhsa wrote:They are not. I can see them but I think you can't ;) I do not approve them and ban the user..
You can save yourself a step, no need to disapprove, when you do an "OC ban" it wipes all of the user's posts automatically.

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jhsa
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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by jhsa » Wed Nov 11, 2015 7:07 am

That's what I do. I should have said that I disapprove by banning them. ;)

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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by Rob Thomson » Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:04 pm

The vast majority of 'blocks' are triggered by a system called 'stopforumspam.com'

We.could try go without it for a bit.. but I suspect it will be very spammy!
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Re: Anti spam measures are too aggressive.

Post by s_mack » Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:37 pm

Their very own faq basically outlines why their service isn't a good idea: http://stopforumspam.com/faq

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