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Thread: Private Message Spam

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    1,654

    Private Message Spam

    Apologies to all forum users who received spam as a private message from a username "theright". Someone registered a legitimate account and then used it to run a script to send spam out to users one by one.

    As they did this overnight, it was only in the morning that I noticed loads of emails from members replying angrily about biofuels forum sending spam and asking me to not email them.

    There were 1,914 private messages that were sent. As most of you have your control panel preferences set to automatically email a notification when a private message is sent, then many of you would have also been emailed with the spam.

    I have since banned and blacklisted this user and also deleted all these private messages.

    I don't know what the answer is to properly preventing this sort of thing in the future, but I will investigate some. Whilst there are many walls and barriers, as well as a good team of moderators that constantly monitor and delete all the spam that gets publicly posted, there is not really any easy way to monitor private messages as they are... well, er, private. I can only tell this has happened when people send me nasty email replies to the notifications.

    If you have received one of these emails, please just delete it. The private messages have been deleted en mass from everyone's mailboxes in here.
    Robert.
    Site Admin.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    1,654

    Re: Private Message Spam

    Also, please be assured that the above infringement has in no way compromised anyone's private data or revealed anyone's email addresses to any spammers. The email that was sent was sent from the forum to inform of a private message and anyone who replied to that message was only sent back to the forum admin, not the spammer, so please don't feel that your private details have been revealed, they are still kept safe.
    Robert.
    Site Admin.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    797

    Re: Private Message Spam

    Robert,

    I didn't get the PM for some reason...

    Have you thought about restricting new sign-ups, so that a moderator has to approve their account before their account is activated? They would have to provide a legitimate email address and perhaps a justification for joining when they register, then the mods can manually activate the accounts that look OK and ignore the rest.

    I know that would create an extra barrier for new people joining, but it would certainly cut down on this sort of thing as well as the endless spam that we mods have to deal with.

    Just a thought.

    Sean
    Sean

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    central coast
    Posts
    284

    Re: Private Message Spam

    No PM received.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    1,654

    Re: Private Message Spam

    Not everyone got hit by this. There are 7,163 members in here and 1,914 messages were sent before the user was stopped, so many people won't have seen it.

    I have often considered manually moderating all new sign ups, but this makes a huge workload for moderators (who do this for free) and it also means that genuine new users who want to ask a question may have to wait a long time to be able to. There are sometimes over a hundred new registrations in a week. Also, there are cases of genuine users who would pass this process and then start to spam. This recent spammer was a real person, not a script. Once he'd jumped the hoops required to register, he ran a script (or spent a long time cutting and pasting). If he had posted a single message in public, then the measures to restrict him would have come into force.

    I will have to look into restricting the freedoms of users in here again and look into ways to prevent this. Unfortunately, my right hand support for this sort of coding no longer exists and I'm a little time poor to do it on my own.

    Meanwhile, I get people like this emailing me after I bothered to reply with an apology:

    Quote Originally Posted by names withheld
    ***** wrote:
    WHAT !! #### HAVE TO DO WITH BIO FUELS ...... YOU HAVE BEEN BLOCKED... STICK WITH WHAT YOU KNOW

    >My reply:
    > Apologies. It was a spammer that hacked the forum and got past all the usual defences. Posts are moderated, but private messages cannot be. They sent 1941 messages to users in here and you were one of them. They have now been banned and blacklisted and all their messages have been deleted. The messages that were delivered by email will still be seen though.
    > The message you got was an automated notification of a private message in the forums, it was not sent by biofuelsforums.

    >>His reply
    ***** wrote:
    >> your defences are poor...take me off your e list....you are blocked..so everything you send me will go in the dump...as of today

    >>>My final reply
    >>>The website is free. It is run by volunteers. It is an Australian website, for Australian users of biofuels. You are a US user who joined in May, but have never contributed a single post.
    >>>You have opted in yourself and provided your email address to be notified automatically whenever a private message is received. This service which you have never contributed a cent to must have been useful to you or you would not have subscribed to it. Again I apologise that another has misused this privilege and assure you that none of your personal data has been compromised. Please see this thread for more information: http://www.biofuelsforum.com/forum/6...ssage_spam.htm

    >>>I apologised for a fault that was not mine.

    >>>You have been rude in return.

    >>>I will ban your account as of today, which should fulfil your requirement.

    >>>Try to be more tolerant in the future.
    I should not have wasted that 15 mins of my life, but it really irks me when I get this sort of thing.
    Robert.
    Site Admin.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    central coast
    Posts
    284

    Re: Private Message Spam

    Robert next time don't withhold his name and I'm sure a few of the forum members will sort things out.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    WA
    Posts
    4,082

    Re: Private Message Spam

    Neil,
    Unfortunately that could compromise Robert legally.

    Robert,
    Thanks fro the consideration and restraint you have shown.

    Should people become abusive, they have crossed the line between good and bad behaviour and should be banned. FULL STOP!

    Merry Christmas

    Tony
    Life is a journey, with problems to solve, lessons to learn, but most of all, experiences to enjoy.

    Current Vehicles in stable:
    '85 Mercedes Benz W123 300CD Turbodiesel single tank using 95% used cooking oil and 5% to 10% misfuel (where someone had filled diesel vehicle with petrol).
    '06 Musso Sports Crew Cab. Running on used cooking oil with 5% to 10% misfuel.
    Toyota Camry Hybrid - (Wife's Car)

    Previous Vehicles:
    '90 Mazda Capella. (2000 - 2003) My first Fatmobile. Converted to fun on veggie oil with a 2 tank setup. Died when supercharger stuck at max boost for weeks. Stretched head bolts.
    '80 Mercedes 300D. 2 tank conversion [Sold]
    '84 Mercedes 300D. 1 tank, no conversion. Replaced engine with rebuilt OM617A turbodiesel engine. Finally had good power. Donor for current Fatmobile coupe. (body parted out and carcass sold for scrap.)
    '99 Mercedes W202 C250 Turbodiesel (my darling Wife's car)[sold]
    '98 Mercedes W202 C250 Turbodiesel (my car)[sold]



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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    1,654

    Re: Private Message Spam

    Well, it has happened again, someone under the name of "james2" has registered and sent 280 spam private messages to members until they were stopped and banned. Apologies if you were spammed.

    I can assure you again that nothing was hacked and no personal data was breached. The spammer used normal means to send messages and the forum automatically emails notifications of private messages. If you got an email and logged in to check the private message and saw it was missing, it is because I bulk deleted any messages sent from this spammer already.

    Thanks to the members who have emailed me to let me know, which meant that I was able to ban and clean up this vandal before more damage was done.

    I do have a better solution to better secure this forum from this sort of thing without interfering with ease of use, freedom, or moderator time. I just have not yet found the time to getting around to implement it yet. I'll have to get this done soon, so there may be some downtime.
    Robert.
    Site Admin.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Fraser Coast - Queensland
    Posts
    57

    Re: Private Message Spam

    Yeah it's a pain. I did recieve it but it is no more than on some other sites and a lot more friendly too I might say. I feel sorry for those that feel that they have to intrude into our lives to make a point. I guess they don't have much of a life. I have also lost patience with this sort of thing in the past but it only seems to encourage them. Anyway, hope you can clean it up.
    Peter

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    1

    Re: Private Message Spam

    Hi bob hear
    It is why i have joined your site the site i use in the UK, has been hit by bl00dy spamers.
    and i am missing my fix of bio reading.
    bob

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