An Overview Of Anti-spam Honeypots

CAPTCHAs can annoy, tire, and frustrate users, especially when caught in an endless loop. It’s difficult to read the blurred or strange text or identify the images that have a feature requested. What is even more discouraging is that spambots can still bypass them. In most cases, the CAPTCHA has random numbers that look like letters or the other way around. You may spend minutes trying to figure out what the numbers and letters could be. This leaves the users of various platforms wondering why CAPTCHA?

While many users may not understand, the CAPTCHAs are actually for their benefit. They avert the risks posed by bot activity. The network security team goes through all this pain to ensure they protect your data from malicious bots. Many users abandon surfing a website the moment they encounter a CAPTCHA. The other issue associated with CAPTCHA is that they leave users feeling that the site does not trust them. So, what is the way forward? Enter anti-spam honeypots.

Anti-spam honeypots

A honeypot is a trap designed to attract bots to reveal their identities. It is implemented by adding a field that a user cannot see because of JavaScript or CSS. Anti-spam honeypots have mechanisms that are introduced to lure the bot. These mechanisms are invisible to the human user. While they can be used, the idea behind anti-spam honeypots is the same, luring the spambot with an attractive thing (honey) depending on their use and making this lure invisible to a human eye. When the spambot fills the field that a user cannot see, it alerts the website to their activity. Therefore, you can reject any traffic that originates from that source because it is a spambot.

Advantages of anti-spam honeypots

Anti-spam honeypots are superior in comparison with the CAPTCHA method. These merits arise primarily in how they go about protecting your API, website, or mobile application. Below are advantages;

There are no texts to fill, images to identify, or math problems to solve

This enhances a user’s experience because they can browse the website freely. As seen above, the users can not realize that the honeypot is even in existence. An anti-spam honeypot cannot inhibit their surfing. Therefore, they do not inconvenience users and save a user’s bandwidth and surfing time.

A web owner does not worry about site abandonment

The lion’s share of users abandons a website when they encounter CAPTCHAS. With an anti-spam honeypot, this does not happen. Honeypots are undetectable by a human being. Therefore, users enjoy surfing your site without abandoning it. It protects you from financial losses and a decline in SEO ranking. This also protects your website traffic because the honeypot traps the spambots.

What is a spambot?

They are automated scripts developed intending to fill forms with information beneficial to their owner. Usually, spambots are used to post comments containing links that help their websites’ SEO. Intelligent spambots can easily bypass any form of CAPTCHA on your website. So, what measures can you take to stop the spambots?

Stopping spambots

To protect your online infrastructure from spamming, you need to take up measures to detect and thwart the spambots campaigns effectively. Akismet plugin has been the go-to method to stop the spambots by many website owners. This was mainly because it was free. Nowadays, this plug costs money to subscribe. While Akismet is a wonderful solution, the sophistication of bots nowadays bypasses them. The bot developers use the ever-popular machine learning to mask the spambot’s behavior, rendering them undetectable. Therefore, as a web owner, you need to craft a more innovative and technical solution to curtail the spambot’s actions. This is where anti-spam honeypots come in. They take advantage of the spambot’s greed to trap it into the honeypot.

How do anti-spam honeypots stop spamming of a website?

Web developers use CSS or JavaScript to hide honeypots within the web pages. Therefore, it makes them invisible to a human user. Since they do not need to fill anything, an anti-spam honeypot does not inconvenience a user.

Spambots crawl the website, identifying opportunities they can exploit to post malicious content to promote their websites. Most of the bots cannot read both CSS and JavaScript. Therefore, during this process, they discover the hidden fields and use them to post their content. It is important to note that the newer generation of bots can read JavaScript and CSS.

If they do not discover it is a trap, the bots post the spam content or fill the form. This way, you get to know that you have a spambot in your hands. You can analyze its signature and take measures to block them from making requests to your website and later delete the files.

How do you deal with spam bots that detect the anti-spam honeypot?

Machine learning and artificial intelligence have sophisticated cyberspace as we know it. The bots and botnets have developed from the traditional sense to new, more intelligent ones. Below are the ways to deal with such scenarios when they arise.

Randomizing and rotating the anti-spam honeypot

Regularly moving the anti-spam honeypot between the valid fields ensures the bot cannot memorize the field based on its index. Therefore, at one point, it will be trapped by the honeypot.

Creating a field containing an icon and a label

The other way to deal with intelligent bots is to make it hard for them. Having an anti-spam honeypot that has an icon and a label makes it look legitimate. Therefore, the bot is not alerted. We can name the field as the default field. After this, give the legit field a random name that makes it look like a honeypot. It makes the bots fall into a trap due to greed.

The last way to deal with intelligent bots is by adding expiration to the form. It prevents the bots from trying to reconnect.

Conclusion

The best way to stop a spambot is by using an anti-spam or an anti-bot method. The good thing is that solutions like DataDome incorporate the two mechanisms to give you real-time, efficient, and accurate results. It protects your site from bot-related threats using advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence models to render any spambot attack fruitless. By using such tools, we can reduce the ballooning cases of online spamming.

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