A news website has been hit with a massive “trackback spam” attack, which saw 27,000 adult weblinks posted to its site in a single day.
The Newsbreak website, based in the Phillipines, had to close the trackback feature of its site after the attack and manually delete the links. It is not known why the company was targeted, though the deluge is unlikely to have been anything other than deliberate.
Users wanting to use the trackback feature – whereby readers can automatically notify a site that they have linked to its pages – now have to manually log in to access it.
Trackbacks have a reputation for being used by spammers, and have been falling out of favour for that reason. As Graham Cluley of security company Sophos noted in his reaction to the story, “It's not uncommon for bloggers to find the vast majority of the trackbacks they receive are from spammers. It's a shame that an innovative technology like trackback should be so widely abused."
Trackback spam was generated in the same way as the vast majority of other spam, using bots, and even mindless examples were worth it because they increased search engine rankings, he said. Even blocklists of spammed links could prove ineffective.
"No one wants to find their blog hammered with nuisance comments pointing to online drugstores, adult websites or bogus financial advice - not only will your blog then help boost the popularity of these unsavoury sites, but you may also be in danger of damaging your reputation with web visitors," he said.
Sophos has posted some examples of the phenomenon on its trackback-free website.