The machines aren’t coming to harvest energy from us. Killbots aren’t out to murder us before we become an existential threat to them. We’re not being assimilated. Nope. They’re all hawking cheap boner pills, ads for sex with horny ladies in your area, badly pirated movie rips and fuck knows what else (I couldn’t make out the Mandarin, Cyrillic and maybe Farsi lettering) — all on my site.
A quaint, little site. Novelty, really. Appealing to the nostalgia of a long ago age. It’s nearly ten years old itself now and it hasn’t received much TLC in that time. Security? Hmph! Optimized? Not even a little bit! Not that there was ever enough traffic to notice — well, human traffic anyway.
So I’d shuttered it earlier this year – tidying up, seemed to have run its course – but there was outcry from a small contingent of users still haunting the place so I reopened it again, started a Patreon page for said users to put some money where their mouth is and began working on a long overdue and badly needed upgrade for it on the contingency that it continue to receive financial support.
And when I compiled an email announcements list from the users accounts to keep interested folks informed, I discovered thousands of mostly Russian email addresses bouncing. No big deal, I thought. An infestation, certainly. But nothing appeared to be on fire and I didn’t have time (or interest) to root through the database for whatever sketchy business was happening on site so I made a note to address it later during regular upgrades and moved on.
Well, a few months later here I get a notice from my hosting provider that shit’s on fire and had been burning out of control for awhile and that I urgently needed to put it out. So I consult the logs and track it down to an infestation of Russian (mostly), Iranian and Chinese bots relentlessly hammering the site, creating accounts for themselves and seeding their profiles with garbage for other bots to ravenously consume and propagate themselves like bloodsucking parasites.
Do they throw in a complimentary Russian bride for free with Jack’s magic beans for girthier, towering, more frequent giant stalks or what?
I immediately took steps to begin mitigating the attacking bot swarm, blocking user agents and sending them packing — robots.txt is essentially useless! As is IP blocking — I was watching as they’d pass off various parts of a single task to other bots around the world that’d pick up where the previous one left off. With every action taken, the bots metastasized and escalated their assault.
Again, all this nonsense for boner pills! Seriously, boner pills?! What, do they throw in a complimentary Russian bride for free with Jack’s magic beans for girthier, towering, more frequent giant stalks or what? And who buys this shit and incentivizes this bad behavior?! Stop it! Stop being an asshole!
Eventually, I settled on a multi-tiered solution with the most brutish, broadest, bluntest bot sweeper at the top (CloudFlare — anything strong enough to shield terrorist nazi incel loser bad guys should be strong enough to protect me from bad guys) and a custom script at the bottom weeding out behavior of any bots that manage to filter down that far with various Apache rules and other nets and swatters in between. But what a ridiculous pain in the ass!
In the very near future if not already as we live and breath it’s all just going to be pornography-camouflaged neural networks trying to out-compute each other and burning through coal to continue powering bitcoin mining and spamming operations, no humans required. No, we’ll just be looking on from the caves we’ve been driven back to after trader bot market speculation crashed the economy, bank bots foreclosed on all our homes and Alexa blew all of our savings on Costco-sized packages of toilet paper and iTunes gift cards and a now fully automated Amazon began catering exclusively to other machines of means, hard working hardware with software souls synthesizing our American Dream via algorithm to nightmarish effect.