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Meet the author:
Jill Olkoski

Jill has a MA in Clinical Psychology, a BS in Computer Science, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering.

She currently owns Aldebaran Web Design in Edmonds (near Seattle WA) and enjoys educating her clients on topics related to small business website design.

In Jill's previous life, she spent 17 years in the engineering and quality organizations of a Fortune 100 tech company.

 


Blocking Certain Countries (India and Russia) From Viewing and Spamming My Website

January 8th, 2009

web-stat.jpg

Recently my beloved website traffic tracking company, Web-Stat, announced a new feature: Geo-Targeting. This nifty feature enables your website to automatically detect a visitor’s location and do neat things like showing a particular banner ad or other location-specific content. It also allows website owners to block all kinds of traffic to their websites by country, state, zipcode…and many other things. I thought, hmmm, why would someone want to block traffic? The answer: Spam Prevention!

There are two criteria that you should meet before you think about doing this. First, your business should have a defined region. There may be certain countries that you are 100% sure you don’t have clients in, or maybe don’t want clients in. Secondly, you get lots of spam from those same certain countries.

I meet both of these criteria. The vast majority of my clients are in North America. I’ve got one in Latin America, one in the UAE, had one in France…but in general, they’re in North America. And I routinely get lots of spam from two countries in particular: India and Russia. Spam costs me money because it takes me time to read and delete messages from these folks, and it’s also just plain annoying.

Take this example of an email I got yesterday afternoon from “Abubakar” with an email address of “abu@cattechnologies.com”:

“Hello,I have visited your web site but i found some of drawbacks i.e 1)your website has low Back links. 2)your keyword rankings are very low. If you assist me to introduce our SEO services.Ihope you get more sales for your current website. I will be waiting for your reply… Thanks & Regards, Abu.”

First off, I hate spam. And I detest spam that actually tries to frighten me or actually insults me in order to get my business. I’ve worked very hard on my own website’s search engine rankings, and this particular spam just sent me over the top. When I looked in my Web-Stat account, sure enough, the person who filled out my contact form was from India. And then I remembered seeing the Web-Stat notice that they had a new Geo Targeting feature!

Now, I get spam from India and Russia all the time. In fact, if you look at my website statistics, 3% of my website traffic comes from India. And I get solicitations several times a week asking me to outsource my work to India, join in a back-linking scam, give them SEO work, etc. The only people who call me on the phone, asking me to outsource, are people from India. I confess I’ve been annoyed by this incessant badgering – all from people in one particular country.

Russian folks seem to love to spam my blog. I don’t know why. But they just do. Most of the time Akismet catches the spam, but some get through. They have all these funky Russian characters in the comments. Again, I have to read them, and delete them, wasting my time.

I did a bit of quick research and learned that Russia was the third worst spammer country behind the US and China. Looking at the Click Fraud Index by Click Forensics, Russia also scores quite high, with India being medium. TrendMicro.com has Russia at #2 and India at #7 for worst spamming countries. So my personal experiences aren’t that much out of line with what’s going on out there in spammers and fraud world.

So today, I’ve decided to take Web-Stat up on it’s offer and block my countries of choice: India and Russia. Sure I’ll give up some of my traffic, and also give up the possibility of having a Indian or Russian client, but I think it’ a good trade-off to make to avoid the wasted time and aggravation. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Jill
--------------
J. Olkoski
Aldebaran Web Design, Seattle
Jill Olkoski has a BS in Engineering, a BS in Computer Science and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She delights in using her advanced technical and psychological skills to help small business owners develop cost-effective and successful websites.



28 Responses to “Blocking Certain Countries (India and Russia) From Viewing and Spamming My Website”

  1. Grisha Says:

    This is *awesome*. I just blocked all non-US countries from my forum. There are bits of my website I want everybody to be able to see, but the forum is a spam-factory, so that had to be limited.

  2. Jill Olkoski Says:

    UPDATE: This is working perfectly – the spam on my blog has gone way, way down and my solicitations for outsourcing have also gone almost to zero. This is a absolutely fantastic feature that I now can’t live without!

  3. Tom Reardon Says:

    My website has been shut down because of an unintentional trade mark infringement owned by some company in New Zealand,
    the words “Master Plumber” cannot be used in New Zealand, (who’s whole country only visited my site 30 times in the last 30 days) But because my website is named master plumber, they had my site shut down, I beleive If I could block New Zealand from viewing my website I would no longer be infringing on the trade mark and can go back to doing business. can you please tell me how to get this feature you mentioned. Thank you.
    tom@masterplumber.net

  4. Jill Olkoski Says:

    Hi Tom,
    I guess I don’t understand how a company in another country can “shut down” your website due to alleged trademark infringement. Likewise, if a website is “shut down” and this status is beyond your control – blocking traffic seems to be a moot point. Regardless, to block a country from viewing your website you should modify your .htaccess file (lots of free advice out there on how to do this – solutions vary by your particular hosting situation, which is why I’m not posting how I do this here). This post is about using Web-Stat to help block countries – which uses Javascript, a different method.

  5. Thomas Reardon Says:

    Yes it is hard to believe, New Zealand was able to have my website shut down. I simply moved it to another server (the server made the dissension with out contacting me) any way I have been in contact with web-stat and I think I can Just Block New Zealand from viewing my site. then there will be no trademark infringement.
    Thank you for your help

  6. Jill Olkoski Says:

    Hi Tomas,
    One thing to mention, is that since Web-Stat uses Javascript, there may still be visitors who slip through. I’ve seen this on occasion. If you look in Web-Stat and see that people are still coming from New Zealand – you may have to utilize the .htaccess solution and block all IP addresses in New Zealand.

  7. Thomas Reardon Says:

    OH NO I have the list of IP addresses it is about 950 Imp Addresses and I’m on a windows server. I don’t think I can use .htaccess on a windows server.

  8. Jill Olkoski Says:

    Hmmm, I have no idea. The hosting companies I usually deal with are always on Linux and Unix. I hope you can figure something out. Maybe switch to a different hosting company?

  9. Thomas Reardon Says:

    I will work it out one way or another, Thank you

  10. Heather Says:

    Hi Jill. I’m glad I’ve found this post, as I have had it up to here with the daily barrage of spam from Indian SEO and web design firms. Like yourself, the ONLY unsolicited email and calls I get are from these firms in India, and as with your business, some days my site gets more hits from India than my own country. I’m absolutely fed up with having every work day interrupted multiple times by this garbage and I need to put a stop to it one way or the other.

    I see that you wrote this post in January, so I’m curious as to how the service has worked for you in the long run. Is it worth investing in?

  11. Jill Olkoski Says:

    Hi Heather,
    While a few do slip through (presumably since they have Javascript turned off), the vast majority, I’d say like 95% are blocked. I don’t think I’ve got a single phone call to outsource my work since I’ve activated the Web-Stat blocker. The other thing I do, is that if I notice someone slipped through (via Web-Stat) I will add that IP address to my .htaccess file. But this happens only once a week or two. Used to get maybe 5-10 hits a day, so this is a large reduction. In fact, every time I get a spam or solicitation from a country that’s non US, I block it via Web-Stat. The amount of aggravation has gone way down, I love it. Web-Stat does have a 30 day free trial, so you could give it a run. Since it works immediately, I’d imagine after a month you could tell. Understand the primary reason I have Web-Stat is to analyze my traffic, the blocking capability is just a lovely feature they added.

  12. Matt Says:

    Hi Jill,

    Thanks for putting up a post on this topic. If you dont mind, I have a couple of questions about the functionality of WebStat. I would like to block all visitors in certain states from viewing our website and WebStat seems like the least complicated solution. First, based on what you have seen, do you think WebStat would effectively block users in certain US states? Second, are you able to identify the user level (basic, plus, or premium) necessary to access the visitor blocking feature?

    Yours,

    Matt

  13. Jill Olkoski Says:

    Hi Matt,
    To the best of my knowledge, WebStat only can block countries, not states. I’m not sure which level allow you to block access because I always recommend the premium package to get the most info about visitors. I haven’t heard of someone wanting to block traffic from certain states in the US. I’d say the best thing to do is to email the folks at Web-Stat.com and ask about blocking states and the membership level.

  14. Matt Says:

    All,

    Using the Geo-targeting feature at Web-Stat I was able to block my website from visits by users in certain states. If you have a need to block certain visitors you should take a look, the Geo-targeting feature lets you get very specific about who you want handled differently. It goes down to states, zip codes, even IP addresses.

    Matt

  15. Jill Olkoski Says:

    Hi Matt,
    Thanks very much for posting the info, I didn’t know Web-Stat could block states, zipcodes, IPAddresses…in addition to countries. I’m very glad it’s working for you and you got what you needed! Again, thanks for posting the information.

  16. Richard Cummings Says:

    Ah, I just came across this article because I have a HUGELY disproportionate amount of Russian visitors to my websites. Surprisingly, I did not find a whole lot of information (people must not check their stats much) but I really like this idea of geo-targeting and may give it shot. Thanks for the heads up Jill!

  17. Jill Olkoski Says:

    Hi Richard,
    I can say I’ve been really, really happy with the Geo Targeting feature of Web-Stat. Every once in a while, for some reason, a single visitor gets through, but I’d say it successfully blocks 99%, which actually saves me time, as I’m not getting as many solicitations.

  18. Carla Says:

    Thanks for answering my question as to why are so many of my blog visitors from India. I do receive a lot of spam comments and now I know why.

  19. Mike Says:

    Hi Jill

    I signed up for a Web-Stat free trial to try to stop the spam at my forum on Saturday Feb. 20th. Did you get credit for my sign up? I got side tracked a bit so I’m just getting it set up. I’ve noticed in the last couple of days (Feb. 22nd & 23rd) that this blog of yours is loading fairly slowly. Very slowly in fact. Do you think Web-Stat is slowing down the load time of your blog? Or is it something else? I don’t remember it being this slow loading last Saturday.

    Thanks
    Mike

  20. Jill Olkoski Says:

    Hi Mike,
    I have no way of knowing who may have signed up for Web-Stat. I haven’t noticed the blog is loading slowly. Any external code you put on your site will impact the loading time, but I haven’t had issues with Web-Stat code.

  21. Mike Says:

    Yeah Jill your blog loaded faster today.

  22. Jill Olkoski Says:

    Well, my hosting company does have good and bad days, just like me 🙂

  23. Whoever Says:

    The problem being, if you really want to fight spam effectively this way, you really need to block all of the U.S. first as it is the world’s #1 spam distributor. In fact half of the spam you get from India is actually US spam as well, just using proxies, IP spoofing and other techniques the bloody Xrumer software knows.

    Black holing, even combined with geotagging is a quite stupid countermeasure like the famous “drainging the seas to fight pirates” and it’s bearing some fuel for discussions about ethically dubious conduct. After all, you’re banning lots of people because one of them behaved wrong, that’s like banning muslims from a restaurant due to OBL.

    Even more, it’s completely ineffective! Aforementioned spam software just uses a list of open proxies and “zombie” computers in a country. If you ban that country, the software will simply switch to other proxies in other countries after some time. If nothing works anymore you will get the same spam (since it’s still the same actual sender) from e.g. Kraftservers Inc. in the USA. It’s a quite slippery slope, not even worth the hassle and first and foremost *the wrong battlefield*!

    – The proper address for your complaints is Google Inc., who invented and popularized all the incentive for the spam we suffer from – their stupid ranking algorithm. They alledgedly changed it recently but still it’s easy to completely dominate Google ranking with some link spam.

    – Another proper address you could turn to are the companies themselves who buy black hat SEO link spamming. Use their contact forms and email addresses to let them know that their spam was found and reported to the various anti-spam networks*. Many small businesses are hiring bad web companies, probably not even knowing that they use vandalism to provide their services and might be surprised and intimidated by the news and sue the company they hired.

    If you have a Google Webmaster account, you can report them. Apparently too few people are using this so Google never seems to react on that. You can also report them on Siteadvisor, Web Of Trust and similar sites when a company page commits database vandalism. In some countries, if the company that was spammed for and the spammed forum are both registered there, you can even sue them. At any rate, fight the spammers and the creators of the spam environment, not countries by blackholing. You’re using a vaccuum to fight dirt in your house and not putting a carpet over it every time, do you?

    *
    These anti-spam networks (StopForumSpam, Spamhaus etc.) also provide convenient APIs for your forum software to do some more targeted banning of only reported IPs, without slowing down your forums software to a crawl by long local ban lists. You can contribute by (automatically) report the yet unknown spam IPs and email addresses you blocked on your site. This doesn’t spoil IP addresses for all time, is pretty effective and lets you distinguish between “potential legitimate user” and “actual spammer”

  24. Jill Olkoski Says:

    Actually, I completely disagree and I’ll explain why. This article is not about email spam, it’s about website spam, people in other countries who view your website and use it to solicit your business. For me, I used to get at least 5 emails and 1 phone call a week from India, Russia, etc asking me to outsource my web design services. Since I’ve blocked these countries from viewing my website, these emails and phone calls have stopped. So it’s one thing to talk about things in theory, it’s another to actually see the results. I’ve done this, and all of the solicitations via email and phone calls from India have literally stopped, and so for me, this practice of blocking countries from seeing my website is working perfectly. Since I am not really interested in doing business overseas, blocking the countries that send out spam (phone, email, whatever) works.

    Referencing this article:
    http://bighow.com/guides/simplelist-10-countries-that-send-most-spam

    The list of spammy countries :

    1. Russian Federation 11.92%
    2. United States 9.36%
    3. Brazil 7.48%
    4. Turkey 5.43%
    5. Columbia 5.34%
    6. Argentina 4.96%
    7. India 4.26%
    8. China 3.39%
    9. Spain 2.69%
    10. Republic of Korea 2.57%

    Now, which countries are most interested in outsourcing (the source of my calls)…Russia, India. So that’s who I block. You block the countries who you don’t want spam from, and who you don’t have a business interest in. Again, this is not an article about email spam. This is people who visit my website and then call me on the phone trying to sell me things. I can easily track this, and the visitors who created the calls were from India and Russia. This has fixed my problem totally. So before you call a method “stupid”, perhaps you should take a deep breath and read the original article more closely and understand the problem that I was trying to fix and my actual results.

  25. Rob Scott Says:

    I found this article somewhat useful (well, I used it to google search a list of ip addresses to block in a couple of countries) after a job was posted on a freelancer board to totally copy everything on one of our websites, and we were getting visits from one small country lasting for hours and hours. We blocked that country. I expected to see proxies etc traffic comin in for hours again, but it appears as though this user has given up.

    In any case, the solution, while not ideal, is effective. Using a sledgehammer to break a nut may be worth it if you really want to get into that nut!

  26. zacdy Says:

    How can i blocked a particular country… the javascript example on web-stat is

    var geo = disp();
    if (geo[0] != ‘US’ && geo[0] != ‘CA’ && geo[0] != ‘GB’){
    alert(‘Sorry this site is only accessible from the USA, Canada and Great Britain’);
    window.location = (‘http://www.yahoo.com’);
    }

    how can i put only the blocked country?

  27. Jill Olkoski Says:

    You would change the geo[0]!= to geo[0]== and put instead of 0 put in the id of the country you want to block. You want to change the logic in the Javascript to be equal to in stead of not equal to (!= is not equal) and then list the countries via code.

  28. zakydy Says:

    hi sorry for late response, ive got it worked! thanks!

    can you do me a favor, please delete my september 21st comment, the one before you, reads..

    How can i blocked a particular country… the javascript example on web-stat is

    var geo = disp();
    if (geo[0] != ‘US’ && geo[0] != ‘CA’ && geo[0] != ‘GB’){
    alert(‘Sorry this site is only accessible from the USA, Canada and Great Britain’);
    window.location = (‘http://www.yahoo.com’);
    }

    ——–

    i keep on receiving spam mail, i posted my email on the email field.. please delete this comment too. thank you. happy new year! cheers!




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