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IPB 2.3.6 upgrade (spam bot prevention etc.)

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Some of you may have seen some random spam topics this week, full of links/images for porn and/or pharmaceuticals. This is just a quick post to explain this shit to those who aren't aware of these sorts of forum 'attacks'.

NOTE: There is no need to reply to an obvious spam bot. Simply report the post and all moderators will then be aware of it via the report system.

Basically, sad people trying to earn a bit of money by way of spamming, write scripts for bots that sign up to thousands of forums and post a single post with a shitload of links to porn or pharmaceutical (drug) websites. Websites and forum softwares combat this with CAPTCHA images - basically an image with a word written in an abnormal way, making it hard for computers to read through character recognition. Though as software becomes more powerful, they gradually find ways to read the images, and so we see waves of spam bots registering again.

That's what happened this week. We and thousands of other forums started seeing spam bots registering and posting again, and IPB rather quickly put out a patch a couple of days ago to improve their CAPTCHA images. Unfortunately they weren't good enough. So today, a proper update was released, version 2.3.6 implements reCAPTCHA which you may well have seen on other websites. It's incredibly hard for computers to read, and at the same time, their service helps to digitize books, read more on the wikipedia article I just linked to or on their official site if you're interested in how it works.

This should be effective immediately, and I imagine it will take an incredibly long time for someone to figure out a way for computers to pass this.

In case you're wondering, this isn't something new that we've had to deal with, and it's nothing personal either, it happens to all forums. We've had to deal with it in the past, before IPB2.2 came along with an improved CAPTCHA function, it got pretty bad and there was loads registering every week. Luckily IPB improved the CAPTCHA enough that these spammers bot scripts couldn't read the codes and thus couldn't pass the registration process. During this time we also banned loads of free webmail services that they used for the email link verification that you must click, again narrowing down the amount of bots that managed to register. That's what happened again this week. Banned a new chain of freemail sites etc.

Anyway, shouldn't see any spam bots for quite some time now. There may well be a few that slipped through and haven't posted yet, but we'll act on those ASAP.

Enjoy the spam-free forum!

P.S. The almighty ban list shows how many we dealt with this week. Not to mention about 20 I found that hadn't validated yet, I deleted their accounts. If this is war then I believe the current score

TGTAP 3 - 0 Spam bots


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