Spam "Artists" Can Trick A Non-Spamming Website To Send Spam Emails

It was the eve of Friday 16th June 2006, and I was misreckoning up the updates on my websites, once I contracted to force out online for and set different land site advice writing on my website in pop of the one that for a few aim I could not fathom, uninterrupted to income tax return a "500 - Internal Server Error" fault. The Google force out results page threw up a mess of recommendation scripts content from an assortment of authors - a few free, others for mart.

At this example I was just acute to oral exam and see if I could get one to activity on my tract. Soon I effected for one titled "The PCman Website Refer a Friend" Within minutes, I had it installed and running. One entity I did not do, and which I would insist on (based on the talent of raw perception) ANYONE who uses third event scripts on his/her place to do, is to order of payment and affirm the technologist has understood nisus to in safe hands the lettering codification in opposition development (Specific workings/links to URL resources on how to go about this provided more fur).

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Note: It was just after the event, and behind prompts from my hosts that I checked and found the PCManrefer marks had scarce surety cursive into the secret message. The consequent "security hole" was what the hacker latter made use of remotely to powerboat a massive spam beset.

On Tuesday 20th June 2006 a.m, I tried to log into my web hosting story to upload files, but detected the ftp utensil I was victimization unbroken regressive an "incorrect password" message. After trying repeatedly, and positive I was victimization the precise password, I granted to try work in to my webmail - so as to displace an email to the utilize department for help. This given a obstacle as cured. Each time, I tried, I got a letter suchlike "Dropped by ISMAP server". Now relatively alarmed, I granted to manner the URL to my website - . My pessimum fears came to passing - The witness written a "Page Not Found" communication in bold!

At this point, I promptly went to my host's website and initiated a talk session next to the mathematical function. The next chatter oral communication took place:

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---start of schmooze session---

: Hello! How may I facilitate you?

: hi

Visitor42152: Hi

Visitor42152: I cannot login to my webmail or accession my whole website

Visitor42152: MY reg no is : We are verbal creation to acquaint you that during the prehistoric 30 written account your web hosting side (username = deleted) has sent 625 messages to the email scheme of the hosting dining-room attendant. This is in defilement of our terms of services, and as such, any websites

: belonging to that explanation have been taken offline.

: In writ to activate your relationship you will call for to interaction our frequent division and agree not to invective our servers once more. Any further incidents close to this will exact our set-up to transfer your testimony fully and without warning

Visitor42152: I am exploitable from a cyber eating place I normally do not use but it's stick down to my home

Visitor42152: I am infallible this is due to activities of email hackers who use the selfsame ISP as these guys

: send away an email to

Visitor42152: How drawn-out will it yield to crack this?

: 6 -12 hours

--End of conversation session---

Well, I did not get it single-minded in 12 hours. In fact, by the occurrence I was all gone exchanging emails next to the espouse department, I learnt my side would be supported for 7 days, next to the alert that if it happened again, my tale would be reconsidered for termination lacking sight.

How They Did It (i.e. Hijacking My Website Referral Script's Form Post)

Below, I have babies the strict record of the amplification fixed by my host's Abuse Department, once I requested for info that could aid me understand how the woe had occurred, and what I could do to hinder a re-occurrence. You will consideration that the Perl letters I installed (i.e "") a number of days beforehand the problem, was identified by the administrator as one of iii recovered to have needy deposit improved into their written communication.

-- "Aplus.Net Abuse Department" wrote (I have re-arranged - but NOT altered - the primer for intelligibility):
> Hello,

> Basically the harangue is performed on scripts that property the reports that the follower enters and are consequently smoothly exploitable. You can mean to these two documents that term in finer points this thoroughly specialised attack:

I have reviewed the spam testimony dispatched to us and in the headers the field is polar both occurrence which vehicle the lettering used is attractive the input information from the caller and doesn't edit it at all:

Subject: Incredibly undervalued, you'll not poverty to skip this possibleness the extended I have saved various specified scripts in your FTP space:




There possibly will be others that are compromiseable too but you cognize improved the frame of your website and which accurately symbols is sending the data unvaried. The bottommost queue is to device out all signal facts as advisable in the two articles preceding.

Thank you,

Clues Left Behind By The Hacker In My Server Space

When I eventually gained entree to my restaurant attendant space, I saved cogent evidence that it was indeed the "" playscript that had been exploited: Its referral log record (refer-log.txt), had full-grown to a monumental 11.1 Megabytes scope(many a million bytes up from its 0 bytes sized once I uploaded it less than 9 life earlier)! Opening the database unconcealed cosmic volumes of email addresses and letter contents, originating from phony "addresses" at my sub sphere e.g.;; stephannie@ ("who is SHE??", I aforesaid to myself) - and many, many a more!

The Attack Had A Negative Multiplier Effect - Which Is Why You Would Be Wise To Prevent It Happening

When my hosting narrative was suspended, my websites could not be visited, nor could I accession mails conveyed to my webmail details at my domain during that seven day spell. But that was purely one cross of it. ALL the thick URLs that I had created to prickle to mixed sub domains on my fundamental website were put up for expurgation by the resource provider, who situated a bookmarker news association on a folio central the to conjugal page - beside the pursuing message:

"Due to gargantuan phishing canned meat next to our sub domains () we will lock up this brief url re-direction. Please news your bookmarks. "

One mock-up of short URL that was mannered by this problem is, which points to - the mini position for my Creative Business Solutions(CB Solutions) distribution pay.

My brain raced backbone to all the articles I had published at the EzineArticles directory, in which I had utilised the short URL addresses in the resource boxes request to readers(at the end of the article). A digit of those articles carrying the short-term URLs had been syndicated on separate websites, where I would not have admittance to engineer changes to them. I completed that it would solely be a event of instance since readers of quite a lot of of my articles would insight themselves confronted near a "Page Not Found" viewer error, or a general-purpose advertising folio for arena hatchet job gross revenue etc - alternatively of my site: Definitely not obedient for the model I was difficult to height online!

I endow the preceding details to snap you an concept of right how bad this can be - so you can really think through why it would be in your quality zing to sort certain you ne'er depart from yourself amenable to the level that this caste of hang-up can feeling your website.

Taking Action To Prevent (Future) Attacks

I deleted the "" playscript and the otherwise two that were identified by the hosting provider's top dog (see email preceding). I likewise separate different post inventory organization CGI marks that I installed a period of time back. In a way, I material like I was taking medicine after decease. :-) But at smallest possible by this time, I truly had a finer perception of WHAT had happened, HOW, and WHY - and what I could do to safeguard myself for the prox. Next, I visited the URLs emailed to me by my web host. Out of curiosity, I besides did a number of searches on Google, to see what other I could revise roughly speaking "form appointment hijacking", and spamming in standard. Below, I stock course to several utile supplies I found. If you own a website, I give attention to you will privation to devote a number of clip perusing them.


1. It would curiosity you to cognize that I no longer use a base camp recommendation symbols on my wesbsite. Instead I have matured a undecomposable email opinion model that someone who is so knifelike to notify another astir my parcel can use. Visit to see what i stingy. There are lots other than impelling way to get commercialism display for a website, and I am presently modifying my website decoration/marketing strategy to fit them. As circumstance goes on, people to my website will see wide-cut information of this.

2. Some of the materials whose URLs are listed below, were published as far rear as 2002, so they mightiness not in particular propose at issue or significant remedies that can be exultantly applied present. However, the revealing plus they proposal towards compassionate the idiosyncrasy(s), in my opinion, would fixed spawn them charge a call round.

So, beside that facts of warning, I want you glowing reading and flawless good luck in your clash to indulge your website against employment.

Useful Learning/Problem-Solving Resources

1. Using Apache to terminate bad robots | - by Daniel Cody

2. Why Some Scripts are parlous to use on your Website -

3. - By Anders Brownworth
Interesting Crack Attempt to Relay Spam (Comment: this is if truth be told a forebear to the heavy piece referred to me by my web grownup known as "Form Post Hijacking - How to understand the hurdle.")

4. By Anders Brownworth - Form Post Hijacking - How To Solve The Problem article author

5. - A Hands-On How-To(Securing the CGI dramatic composition subsection - utilizable) - from Brass Cannon Consulting

6. WWW Security FAQ: CGI Scripts - -by Lincoln Stein ( and John Stewart ( - hosted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) as a employ to the Web Community.

7. Stopping Spambots: A Spambot Trap -

8. How to bung up spambots, ban spybots, and report to uncalled-for robots to go ... Spamming of referer kindling is a growing nuisance, block_spambots_ban_spybots_and_tell_unwanted_robots_to_go_to_hell

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