Don’t Blame Canada: An Update on Ning Anti-spam Measures

Many Network Creators continue to report high levels of spam on their Ning Networks.

What are we doing about it?

First of all, I want you to know how seriously we consider this issue. Spam isn’t just an annoyance for Network Creators and their members. Spam gets in the way of member participation and interaction, which is the lifeblood of a successful, vibrant Ning Network like yours. We have a dedicated engineering team that is focused on spam prevention led by Martin Westhead.

Unfortunately, the current spam attack promoting “Canadian Pharmacy” is a sophisticated attack attributed to a Russian cyber-criminal organization. As with other sophisticated spammers, this organization employs dozens or even hundreds of people to create accounts, resolve CAPTCHAs and verify email addresses, then passes the accounts to a large botnet to post spam from thousands of computers, each with a different IP address.

Due to the sophisticated nature of the attack, there aren’t any quick fixes. We have already implemented several steps to block spam and plan to deploy a number of other features in the next few weeks. These measures are already blocking and disabling thousands of spam accounts each day. Here’s an update:
  • Yesterday, we significantly tightened our rules for new blog posts, which has been the primary type of spam for the “Canadian Pharmacy” attack. These rules identify and remove spam accounts automatically. You may have noticed a decrease in spam based on this action.
  • Next week, we will test and begin implementing temporary blocks on members that look suspicious based on their recent activity.
  • Within the next two weeks, we'll roll out a new feature for NCs — you'll be able to give specific members of your Ning Network the ability to easily flag and hide spam on your Ning Network.

How can you help?

We are using the data from the “suspend for spam” feature to automatically disable thousands of accounts across the Ning Platform each day. Please continue to use this feature when you suspend spammers.

We recommend that you turn on blog approval on your Ning Network. This will help you block new spam posts. While it's not optimal for some larger Ning Networks, we also recommend that you consider turning on member moderation.

As we implement increasingly stringent anti-spam measure, we are working hard to minimize the number of legitimate members that are incorrectly blocked or disabled. We apologize if this happens to any of your members. Please have them write in to our Help Center and we will re-enable their account as quickly as possible.

John McDonald
Vice President, Advocacy

Views: 154

Tags: blog, canadian, member, moderation, pharmacy, spam, spammers

NC for Hire
Comment by Jen on March 11, 2010 at 11:14pm
Wow John. Thank you for all your efforts to prevent the spammers - - Team Ning. And your statement about "...specific members of your Ning Network the ability to easily flag and hide spam on your Ning Network." that is really wonderful news, and will be a much welcomed feature.
Comment by Earth Monster on March 12, 2010 at 10:14am
excellent post ..thank you for sharing

Comment by Thomas Richmond. on March 12, 2010 at 12:38pm
Canada Rocks! .....Just the Spammers Suck....

Thanks for the warning , on the look out !
Comment by Joanna MaGrath on March 12, 2010 at 3:30pm
Thank you John and Thank you Ning...! I have a questionable profile on my Yachts site that I was considering deleting. After reading this I am buckling down everything. It really upsets me someone comes up with a great idea and there are little burgers that have to be annoying.
Comment by MARIE on March 12, 2010 at 7:04pm
Thanks for the information.

Comment by Sports Hypnotherapy Glasgow on March 13, 2010 at 2:21am
Thank you for the update. Much appreciated.
Comment by Madeline Burkett on March 14, 2010 at 8:41pm
It is good to filter spam because nobody likes it. Unfortunately it is hurting many sites and their members. The members of my site and a few others that I know of and belong to are afraid to post comments any more. I know of two site creators that were blocked from signing in to their own sites. There are a lot of members leaving the sites and Ning because of it. Many others are talking about a class action lawsuit against Ning. When someone is blocked for spamming and they are not, it is considered slander. I have noticed that it is mostly Native American sites and Native American members that seem to be targeted, and that upsets me. My daughter is working on a law in New york on a similar matter. I do hope this is handled quickly before too many more think of leaving the Ning Network. Ning is quickly becoming very unpopular because of this. It is starting to spread all over the net what is happening here.
Comment by Gay Stephenson on March 15, 2010 at 1:38pm
Thank you John for this update. Good to know (we) Canada is not getting the blame for this outbreak of Spam.
Comment by Cynthia Gentry on March 15, 2010 at 1:52pm
I was getting hundreds of the Canadian Phara attacks a day. I already had the blog approval thing checked so that kept them from getting on my site. I then added the new member approval. The hits continued for about another day and have pretty much stopped now. When they were coming in, their addresses were all in this format: name 5 or 5 numbers name@gmail. com. That made it easy for me to pick out the real people from the bzillion phonies. Thought I was losing my mind there for a few days. Had to babysit my 3 sites non-stop. But, hopefully it's over now (until the next one). Thanks for working on it on your end, Ning. And, Canada, I am profoundly sorry for the names I called you during this. Oh, and during a recent hockey game, too. I really didn't mean it.
Comment by Susan Daniels on March 17, 2010 at 9:31am
They used my personal email address last month to send out Canadian Pharmacy ads. When I deleted my contacts from yahoo and changed my password - to the best of my knowledge - it stopped. At least I have not received an angry email lately from one of the unfortunate recipients. Thanks for this post. My .Ning network will go back on an approval basis immediately.


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