A new wave of new Google Analytics spam has been registered. It appears that spammers are continuously reinventing their methods, as seen in this new instance which displays some relatively new spam behavior. This spam has been dubbed “language spam”.
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|Type||Google Analytics Spam, Referral Spam|
|Short Description||The spam campaign is now being spread as “secret.Google.com-Trump”|
|Symptoms||Its placement on the Google Analytics “report homepage”.|
|Distribution Method||Through spam bots.|
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|User Experience||Join Our Forum to Discuss Language Spam.|
Researchers first noticed it on November 8, and the timing wasn’t a coincidence, as visible by the message it contained:
Secret.ɢoogle.com You are invited! Enter only with this ticket URL. Copy it. Vote for Trump!
This text is displayed in the dimension where language information is shown. This type of information is sent automatically to Google Analytics as short abbreviations, like “en”, “es”, “fr”. The technique has been deployed together with referral spam. These domains have been listed as source/medium:
abc.xyz, brateg.xyz, budilneg.xyz, begalka.xyz, bezlimitko.xyz, bukleteg.xyz, boltalko.xyz, biteg.xyz
As researchers point out, this is indeed “a two-vector attack trying to get the user’s attention to both the fake referrer domains and to the language report, probably because of its prominent placement on the Google Analytics “report homepage”:
Apparently, the spam campaign has been updated recently and is now being spread as “secret.Google.com-Trump”, or secret.ɢoogle.com.
Language Spam may be spread in two ways:
#1 – Web Crawler Spam
Web crawler spam, also known as spider, is when the the spam bot essentially ‘crawls’ the Web looking for opportunities in the face of underdeveloped or small websites. It is not very persistent since the spam bot is usually programmed in a massive scale to stop spamming the same website after being deleted or flagged. However, there still may be advanced spammers that could develop such software into being more sophisticated.
#2 – Ghost Referral Spam
This particular type of spam is more sophisticated because it uses the free hype text protocol (HTTP) in order to take advantage of it and remain hidden and in some cases not even logically present in the website it spams. Ben Davis at vidget.com claims that such spam is not even present on the website it is spamming. Even worse, the spam may target different parts of the website.
Either way, referral spam aims to drive hoax traffic to third-party websites and most spammers do not really care about the type of websites they advertise this way, i.e. sharebutton(.)to.
How Popular Is the Language Spam Campaign?
The campaign is getting quite popular, and it is also generating quite the traffic. Research shows that the artificially generated traffic is more than the average referral spam generates. The campaign bounce rate is estimated as average and has a long average session duration – more than 30 minutes.
How to Block Language Spam in Google Analytics?
Fortunately, there is a way to stop this spam – by using the valid hostname filter applied for ghost spam. But because there is always the chance that some spam can get through, Carlos Escalera has created a specific filter with an expression that will prevent any unusual messages that are not proper languages.
You can also refer to the steps below, which efficiently deal with referral spam.