Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

...because some of it is pretty and some of it is not.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Attack of the Russian Spambots

Spam, by definition, is unwanted, irrelevant, or inappropriate information sent indiscriminately to large numbers of recipients over the internet.  Some spam may simply be a form of advertisement.  On the darker side, some spam is for phishing: seeking to obtain personal information.  Other types of spam may lead users to internet addresses where malware is present.
Spambots are programs that harvest email addresses from websites, chatroom conversations, etc.
Why do I care?
About a month before the election, I linked my blog to Google Analytics.  Google Analytics is a powerful web analytic service that generates reports on web traffic for a given website—in this case, the blog you are now reading.  Analytics will track the number of sessions, session length, the number of new and returning users, the country and city of origin for users, and revenue where such is involved.  With Google Analytics, a smarter person than me can drill down even deeper.
Early into working with the analytics reports, I began to see three to five blog “sessions” daily from users in Russia.  Most originated from St. Petersburg.  A few originated from Moscow.  The sessions were, in fact, spam hitting my blog page.  Rather than showing a language associated with them (as other sessions do), this was shown on my report: Secret.ɢ You are invited! Enter only with this ticket URL. Copy it. Vote for Trump!
Probably not a link you want to follow home.
These daily spam hits continued until a few days after the election and then they went away.  I have since read a bit about this sort activity.  Russia is a notorious home for internet junk and hacking activities. 
Below, I have posted two screen captures from my Google Analytics reports that show exactly what I am talking about.
At present, there is suspicion that someone in Russia used the internet and hacking practices for purposes of tinkering with our election.  This does not strike me as particularly wild speculation given what I already know.  This stuff is, at a minimum, annoying.  But given our ever-increasing reliance on the internet in all things, malicious activity on the internet is dangerous.   

--Mitchell Hegman


  1. Russia, like China, is known to be a hotbed for hackers and others who are into internet espionage. I can believe that Russia meddled in our election process. How? I still have to learn that. But the possibility is high. Putin and Trump have been cozying up with each other even before the elections.

  2. The more I hear, the more I think it is likely that the Russians meddled with the election.