Tuesday, 14 January 2014

spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam and spam.

My website contains a contact form. When someone contacts me through this form, it sends an email to my gmail account. From there, a filter recognises certain phrases, and forwards it to a company called textlocal, who then send it to my mobile phone. This allows me to respond very quickly, sometimes within seconds, to an enquiry.

One requirement I had was to include a straightforward bot trap. I wanted it to be simple for a human to read, but to weed out the majority of the inevitable bollocks that always seems to accompany the inclusion of such forms. The guy that did the site came up with something that fitted my requirements really well. It wasn't onerous for the end user to use, and it did almost eliminate automated enquiries.

From time to time, things don't seem to work as well, and for a few days I get spammed to buggery, then somehow it all stops again. It's particularly annoying because I use my phone as my alarm clock, so having false enquiries sent to me as text messages at irregular but frequent intervals throughout the night disturbs both me and Bren.

It's been happening for the last 24 hours. In that time I've received around 20 contacts, all of which are just gibberish.

Thing is, I don't get why they're doing this. At first I thought that when I checked the email, rather than mobile copy of the messages, there would be links somewhere to nefarious websites but there was no such thing. My second thought was that the contact form somehow stripped out any links that had been embedded, so I sent myself a test query, complete with a hyperlink. The link was forwarded along with the message, no problem.

So why do this? It just makes no sense.

For now, I've switched off the forwarding. Contact form enquiries still go to my email address, but no further, and I have to just check my mail several times a day to find if any of the messages I've recieved are genuine.

It would be useful if I could specify, amidst all the other options for filters in gmail, that filtering takes place between specified times. Other methods, such as tightening up the requirements of the contact form (a more difficult captcha, or some javascript insistence on a certain number of numerical only digits in the supplied phone number) might work to dissuade people from contacting me.

I'm hoping that this will stop in the next couple of days, or I will have to get in touch with the guy who did my site and arrange something to prevent them getting through. For now, I'm taking a small pleasure from envisioning the perpetrator, his face a mask of blood, as I smack his head repeatedly against the edge of my computer desk.

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