The Referral Right into Referrer Spam

Anyone that administers interactive platforms such as blogs or guest books is probably very familiar with referrer spam.  Many of us have seen it - and probably have been fooled by it at one time or another.  That's because the referrer's information can be easily falsified.  Some site owners configure several computers to access another site with referrer links that contain their URL.  This leaves the server logs of a target site clogged with hundreds or thousands of falsified listings.  This is the infamous act of refer spamming. 

Why They Do It

Some may ask the question: what's the point?   Why go around dumping web addresses in someone else's log files?  The truth is that many web servers are able to log an extensive amount of information concerning visitors of that particular site.  A more efficient webmaster or blogger will used advanced software to automatically organize the log files for analysis.  This means that most of the web pages can be broken down into comprehensive statistics - statistics that will very likely include the links of those referrer spammers. 

As a part of marketing strategy, many bloggers will often display visible links to the web addresses most recently found in their log files.  Some will also place the referrer links right on their homepage.  Bloggers and others site owners looking for a shortcut spam log files to have their URLs listed on the referrer links.  This gives them a better chance of ranking high in a search engine.  It can also gain the spammer a bit of high-value traffic, if curious web surfers visiting a victimized site take interest in the referrer links. 

How They Do It

Spammers have a pretty thorough system when it comes to finding targets.  This can be done automatically by searching for blogs and other sites that have been recently updated.  They can also perform a simple lookup of "recent referrers" in a search engine.  After a vulnerable site appears ripe for spamming, they can then compromise it in several ways, the first being with aid of a more experienced spammer.  One particular underground company offered to lend their services and spam the logs of well over 50,000 web sites - of course for a healthy fee. 

Another approach is frequently used by porn sites or adult friend services.  They go advanced by placing someone else's image tag in the HTML of their web page.  No page loads when a user clicks on the link, but the hit does generate a legitimate hit on a victim's website that will be logged by the server.   Some also use special software to leave custom referrer spam onto a user's log files. 

How to Prevent Referrer Spam

Referrer spam is very unique and often difficult to spot.  At worst, this type of spam could gobble away your bandwidth, while tarnishing the name of your business.

If the log files of your website or blog have become the victim of referrer spam, there is an easy way to stop it.  Many web hosting companies utilize Apache servers that can be easily configured to block these intrusive spammers. 

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