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Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Is There A Purpose To Referer Spam?

We've been experiencing - and discussing - referer spam, since 2011.

We still see unaware blog owners, asking in Blogger Help Forum: Get Help with an Issue.
When I checked my stats for my blog, and looked at traffic sources, I noticed a link from a different country - and it just seems weird that Russian readers would then go to a US site.

When we explain that they're probably seeing another referer spam attack - and that clicking on the links is not always a good idea, we get a variety of responses. Some want to know if there is a purpose, to this noise.

Referer spam has a variety of purposes - ranging from commercial, to dangerous, to deceptive.


Garbage? Or a purpose?



Here are just 3 examples, from Blogger Help Forum: Get Help with an Issue.

  • Advertise any paying customer.
  • Lead you to a website with hacking content.
  • Attack innocent third parties.

Advertise any paying customer.

This is the commercial possibility. If there's money to be made from publishing informative, interesting, and original content, there is probably lots more money to be made herding innocent third parties to ads on any website needing traffic - and lacking informative, interesting, and original content.

This may even represent a variation of GPT. And with the volume of referer spam that's possible, there are surely enough naive blog owners to make this a very lucrative activity.

Lead you to a website with hacking content.

This is the dangerous possibility. With hacking activity as a possible destination, clicking on a Stats link blindly is like playing "Russian Roulette", with your computer.

And, don't expect the website URL to provide a clue as to the destination. "www.innocous-name.com" could itself be hacked - and might unknowingly serve content from "www.hacking-website.com" - or redirect to "www.hacking-website.com".

Attack innocent third parties.

This is the deceptive possibility.

My blog was a "victim" of referer spam attack, in 2011. I have seen similar referer spam reports, that suggest this is not an unusual use of referer spam.

Protect yourself - if you must investigate your referers.

Surely, there are still actual people surfing - and some referer links are genuine. Eventually, you will want to check out some of the more intriguing URLs, in "Traffic sources".

If you decide to investigate one of the links, copy the text of the link URL - then use a proxy server.

Just don't investigate links, without protection. That's what proxy servers are for.



Some #Blogger blog owners want to know if referer spam has a purpose - or if it is simply random noise. It actually has a variety of purposes - commercial, dangerous, and deceptive.

Dude, hit me with a comment!

^.^ said...

I see some Russian spam addresses at times, but I just ignore it and I never open their links ...

Kezzie said...

Ooh this is helpful. I've often wondered about weird links.
What is a proxy server by the way please?

Anna B said...

Great post and agree, never click on unknown posts. It is definitely not worth the risk. Proxy servers are always a good idea.