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Friday, March 25, 2016

phpBB and how I hate Spammers

Among other things that consume my time, I Web-Master for a non-profit organization  We have a phpBB blog within our site and  have been battling Spammers for quite some time, many of which are little more than spambots or botnets orchestrated by Russian Hackers.  Let me be clear, I love phpBB.  It's remarkable ease of use cannot be denied.  But this spam problem really needs to be addressed in some way.  By banning the poster's  using their IP and e-mail Address as well as user name, I managed to reduce the daily spam-post content to about 3 to 5 a day, but it isstill a hassle.  I scoured the web in an attempt to find reliable guidance as to haw to block all of this nonsense.  Truly, there was nothing of value except for a suggestion to use a Filtering Service to weed out connections from known domains that host the vast majority of Russian spammers.  As our site is very regional to Arizona the only downside to this approach is that these services require you to pay a recurring service charge and it's not really advantageous to a small non-profit to incur such charges.

I had been searching for some time for a reliable technique to block these spammers, but they kept breaking through regardless of what I did.  I started contemplating -- instead of just banning individual e-mails, what if I could ban entire domains or sub-domains such as *@*.ru (most of Russia) or *@yandex.com (another common Russian subdomain used by Russian Spammers   Ultimately I found that this can indeed be done within the phpBB Administration Control Panel.  I'm just puzzled why people have not identified this solution.  it seems crazy simple.  By doing this from the "Users and Groups" tab of the ACP, I am rather confident that I will block the vast majority of the Russian Spammers, with the exception of a few that use Gmail Accounts and with a polite communique to Google, I suspect that the remainder can be snuffed out.

Gradually the number of breaches by these leeches will dwindle to a very small and manageable number until I achieve that blissful nirvana of a pristine site of people helping each other without advertisementss for Viagra and Porno sites clogging up the Bulletin Board. --- HAPPINESS!!!!

Well, not quite total HAPPINESS....some of these bastards are still getting through, but I also noted that phpBB also provides the ability to wildcard ban IP addresses.  By looking at the various IPs that I have banned, one can easily deduce the IP sequences that correspond only to Russian addresses.  By blocking those IP sequences I am seeing fewer and fewer spam messages geting through.  Should have them all blocked by the end of the week. ;-)

Another helpful hint.  If you have doubts about banning or blocking a particular IP Address, you can check the IP Address here to see which country it originates in:  Lookup IP Address country - Geo IP Multi-Lookup  What's great about this site is that you can see how long the IP has been assigned and you can also put multiple IP Addresses in the text box and get a set of results.

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