Mon
Feb 4 2013
11:14 am
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58
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blankslate's picture

Thank goodness for VPNs

Yup, it's blocked in China, Malaysia, Vietnam and occasionally I was blocked in parts of Thailand, too.

Understandable I guess. It is nice to be able to keep up on what is really happening in Knoxville, though.

David
South Knox (when I am there)

R. Neal's picture

Yes, sorry about that. The

Yes, sorry about that. The entire Asia/Pacific APNIC address range is blocked because of spammers, crawlers and slurpers overloading the server.

Bbeanster's picture

what are slurpers?

what are slurpers?

blankslate's picture

I understand

I'm just glad to have a workaround. While I hardly ever post, I depend on you for my daily dose of what's really happening in East Tennessee. I'd hate to loose track of you all.

It's comfort food when I'm in strange places.

~D

R. Neal's picture

A/K/A scrapers, programs that

A/K/A scrapers, programs that crawl websites and copy page data to steal and/or re-host content, analyze competitive info, harvest e-mail addresses, etc.

There are legitimate uses, such as programs that save a copy of a page for offline viewing, and search engines such as Google and Yahoo also crawl server pages and archive stuff for indexing and search purposes, but those generally play nice with your server.

From what I can tell, the rogue programs start with the front page and then follow every link from there and every link from those pages and so on, copying the data for whatever purpose. They can generate tens or hundreds of thousands of server "hits" in a very short period of time that can overwhelm the server.

Others try to post spam messages on any open text field like comment forms, etc., and others try to send back-door email spam through contact forms, etc. Still others are looking for exploits to get access with elevated permissions so they can hack the site.

You can set up a "robots.txt" file that legit crawlers are supposed to use to navigate through relevant portions of the site to minimize the server impact. I have one that's fairly complicated, but the rogue crawlers/slurpers don't honor it or even look at it, I imagine.

I have no idea why the Chinese are so interested in KnoxViews, but it was giving me fits until I blocked half the planet.

There's probably more to it than I understand and better ways to control it, but this is a kitchen table operation barely getting by.

Factchecker's picture

KV was blocked in France when

KV was blocked in France when I was there a couple of years ago. Might have just been the server for the hotel where I found that to be the case, but it was a puzzle as to why.

redmondkr's picture

I occasionally send a link to

I occasionally send a link to a KV article to my friend in Bath, England, and he tells me he is blocked there too.

R. Neal's picture

OK, I have removed all IP

OK, I have removed all IP blocking. I am trying some different firewall settings instead. Hopefully we don't all get blocked, and hopefully folks around the world can access the site now.

blankslate's picture

Thanks for that!

Hope you don't get buried in piles of electronic ick!

RE: "I have no idea why the Chinese are so interested in KnoxViews, but it was giving me fits until I blocked half the planet."

Well, 1) I think they would see KnoxViews as a voice of progressive "opposition" in a reactionary right-wing state - fascinating stuff, given what I understand of their mindset. (2 Good insights into how our politics work / don't work on a local level. (3 Oak Ridge, etc. (4 Entertainment - Stacey Campfield and the rest of the TN loonz...

The chinese have allways cast a big net in terms of their data mining /espionage activities. Lord knows they have the manpower!

~D

R. Neal's picture

A note to our Asia/Pacific

A note to our Asia/Pacific users (user?).

Sorry, but we have had to reinstate blocking of the entire APNIC address range.

The firewall changes were able to mostly control the slurpers, or at lease keep them from overwhelming the server, so that is still in place.

Another utility that attempted to detect bots was blocking some legitimate traffic, so it had to be disabled.

Despite all that, we have been overwhelmed with spam and it is practically a full time job cleaning it up. A new spam filter caught some automatically, but still required cleanup.

(Since unblocking APNIC addresses, it appears that most or all of the spam is coming from actual human users registering accounts and pasting spam.)

So, we have had to reinstate blocking of half the planet. Sorry about that if you are affected. As mentioned previously, VPN is one way to get around it. There are several free services.

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