Cyber Attacks. What ScienCentral has in common with The New York Times

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The New York Times web site went down two days ago. Hackers hijacked the domain name nytimes.com and redirected users to a site that supports Syria’s current regime. The hackers call themselves the Syrian Electronic Army.

Over the years, sciencentral.com has received different kinds of attacks. Over the past week our comments box was overwhelmed by spam. Each spam message was long and in Japanese type. Real comments were nearly lost in the long list of spam. It took hours to sort through comments. And since we recently relaunched, we did not even have that much content. This deluge of spam is continuing as we figure out how to protect ourselves from it.

I suspect that the way 88% of email traffic has become spam and an entire industry has grown up to keep email useful, web sites will experience webmaster fatigue as we fight against various forms of attack. According to Microsoft researchers Justin M. Rao and David H. Reiley in a 2010 article, email spam rakes in $200 million a year for spammers – but costs society as a whole nearly $20 billion. An IT Security company describes the problem more succinctly than the researchers do – and they have products to target spam and decrease the costs to businesses – well, at least they claim so. We webmasters have a similar problem to any person trying to fish important emails out of a sea of spam. We don’t want to cut off our readers and comment makers.  But the tools for comment spam detection are not very good yet. So we may confront the possibility of turning off the comment line.

What a shame.

1 Comment

  • Reply August 30, 2013

    Grannysmith

    I hate spam. I hate getting phone calls all through dinner offering me insurance and what not. I hate ratings on sites that are generated by people who have no interest in the product. I just stop looking at much of anything but the Sunday circular in my – gasp – print newspaper.

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