AccountingWEB editor John Stokdyk reports on the aftermath of a torrid weekend battling evildoers and their dodgy HD video streaming services.
Dateline 29 June, Bristol - If you visited AccountingWEB over the weekend (27-8 June), you may have encountered a profusion of unwanted invitations to view HD films of dubious quality.
Please be assured this is not our usual weekend fare and we apologising unreservedly if the experience spoiled your enjoyment of AccountingWEB. For the past few weeks, our site has been the target of malicious spammers and for a 24hr period this weekend, they undoubtedly had the upper hand.
There have been minor skirmishes going back several months as the spammers probed our defences, and the weekend before last they staged an incursion on to our blog page, forcing us to shut down that facility temporarily.
This weekend, we faced a sustained assault on all the interactive corners of the site: Any Answers, Blogs and Discussion Groups. We had received warnings from members - for which we are very thankful - but had felt our preventive measures were adequate.
On this point we were mistaken. The attack was clearly conducted by determined people operating at odd hours of the weekend. Once we noticed the scale of the attack, it was dealt with reasonably swiftly, but we were forced to temporarily suspend new registrations to block any further activity.
Our technical team is reviewing the nature of this attack and looking into how we can strengthen our defences, and in response to exhortations from the members affected by the outbreak, we will also be beefing up our regime for monitoring site activity, which will get reported to our 24/7 on-call team. As an additional measure, we will also be reintroducing CAPTCHA on all comments to deter spammers.
Please do bear in mind that we have many layers of security within our server systems, including an enterprise-level content moderation web service. While we will try our utmost to prevent a similar outbreak happening again, we have seen that we can’t always beat them with technological defences alone.
As our Community Manager and other AccountingWEB members have pointed out, we are involved in a never-ending game of cat-and-mouse with spammers. We generally enjoy a pretty high degree of spam-free activity on the site - but this weekend was a lesson to remind us not to be complacent.
We would like to thank all the community members who alerted us to the outbreak. We do care about what happens on the site at all times and will take on board many of the comments that were posted by actual AccountingWEB members over the weekend.
AccountingWEB’s Head of Insight has been with the site since 1999 and likes to spend his time studying accountants’ technology habits. When not nerding out, you can find him exploring obscure indie music and searching for the perfect organic sourdough loaf from his base in Brighton, UK.