Art and commentary by Kimberly Harris

Posts tagged ‘referrer spam’

Referrer Spam Monsters be Here!

Tiny Monsters begging to be clicked on by a giant finger

Click on us at your own peril!

It’s so frustrating to have to sort through your page views to try to identify your legitimate visitors who are obscured in a swamp of spam. Not only are these unwelcome visitors a source of clutter and distraction, but they also can harbor dangerous malware.

Most people who meticulously maintain their blogs on a routine basis are experiencing the irritating phenomenon known as “referrer spam.” It appears with annoying frequency in our visitor statistics in the form of links whose intent it is to dispatch us off to some faraway land to view some abjectly irrelevant page hyping a product or service that is of no interest or utility to us, even if it were free. The substance of this business model escapes me, because for every click that earns someone a tiny commission, there is another person on the other end who pays the bill for all the impressions and clicks with the expectation of turning a profit from the site visitors attracted by the referrer spam. Since most WordPress bloggers are highly unlikely to purchase beauty products or cell phone service from a site on the other side of the planet, what is the point?

There is however a more sinister side to this unwanted deluge of links. Occasionally, they are intended to deceive unwary viewers for the purpose of leading them to a rogue website where dangerous malware will be surreptitiously downloaded onto their computers for the purpose of identity theft or conscripting their machines into a life of servitude as an unwitting vehicle for transmitting more spam to other hapless victims.

An additional element of danger is present in the spammers’ use of URL shorteners that obscure the true destination of the link by using abbreviations that reference “bit.ly” and “tinyurl” redirection services. However, the recent trend is towards longer complete links that often include “wordpress.” Don’t be fooled. Be wary of these monsters and gremlins. Don’t click.

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