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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Accounts Locked For Unusual Account Activity

One of the more intriguing tales of Blogger blogs, currently being explored, involves blogs mysteriously deleted by Blogger.
My blog just disappeared from my dashboard - and no, it's not listed under "Deleted blogs"!
In some cases, the owner knows more than is implied, from the obvious wording of that problem report.

As Blogger / Google continues to improve the hacking / malware detection and removal process, they are making the recovery of accounts locked for "suspicious" / "unusual" activity easier - and more transparent. The increased transparency may, in some cases, cause mystery.

Diagnosing the many mysterious blog disappearances, currently being reported in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, may involve what the blog owner does not report - as much as what the owner does report.

Hacking Detection / Recovery is constantly being improved.

Blogger / Google is constantly refining the hacking detection / recovery process, to both improve the possibility that any activity will be detected, and to make it easier for the victims of the hacking to deal with the recovery process. As they make it easier for the owners to recover the accounts locked, they make it less likely that the owners will mention the locked account recovery, when later reporting the blogs, mysteriously missing from the dashboard.

Some owners will provide vague clues, alluding to hacking detection.

In some cases, the blog owner will provide vague clues, which refer to an immediately previous account unlock.
  • Required to change the account password.
  • Required to provide a phone number - and receive either a text or voice message with a recovery code.
  • Required to solve a CAPTCHA.
All of these clues can be relevant to a locked account, or to various other anti-hacking / anti-spam activity by Blogger / Google - and can be overlooked as a locked account symptom, when stated in a forum problem report.

Other times, only the circumstances identify the situation.

In other cases, the only clue provided will be that the blogs in question are missing, and not listed in any dashboard list - "Deleted blogs", "Locked blogs", or "My blogs". In cases where we've simply reported missing blogs for malware / spam review, to Blogger Support, we're later advised to instruct the blog owner to recover the account.

Every owner does not always appreciate the diagnostic process.

Since immediate review of any blog cannot be always guaranteed by Blogger Support, it's to everybody's benefit that we request clues to verify the problems being reported. Unfortunately, the questions asked may not always seem relevant to some blog owners, unhappy about the mysterious loss of their blogs - even though they may contribute to the problem, inadvertently.

All owners won't even get email, alerting them to action taken.

And thanks to the possibility that not all blog owners may even get a notice when their accounts are locked, owners with multiple accounts may not even realise that a given Blogger account is locked. These owners find out that a given blog has been deleted, only after it goes offline and expires from cache. This will make some blog owners even less cooperative, when asked to provide diagnostic details about their problems.

Dude, hit me with a comment!

Dani said...

Regarding hacking - I have noticed that one particular posting (http://ecofootprintsa.blogspot.com/2010/09/dover-stove-diagram.html)seems to get an extra-ordinary number of daily visits i.e. of 359 postings and 133 504 all time page views, 30 466 are views of that posting only.

Also, judging by the Blogger Stats "audience" figures it would also appear that most of these unusual page views are being generated from the US of A.

Could someone / something be using that posting for other nefarious means? And how do I prevent that?

Strangely though, both Site Meter and Stat Counter do NOT reflect the same excessive "Dover Stove Diagram" page views as are reflected on the Blogger Stats.

Chuck Croll said...

Dani,

What you're describing sounds like referer spam, which afflicts all blogs.

You cannot block referer spam.

http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/2011/11/referer-spam-does-not-represent-real.html

http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/2012/04/referer-spam-cannot-be-blocked.html