Get Rid of Adf.ly Referral Spam Links In Google Analytics - How to, Technology and PC Security Forum | SensorsTechForum.com

Get Rid of Adf.ly Referral Spam Links In Google Analytics

Referrer spam has been the cause of many website publishers` headaches lately. There have been many websites that have experienced problems with their analytics due to such spamming software. It is primarily conducted by the so called spam bots that are programmed to do different activities like stay undetected or crawl the web to look for websites to spam based on specific criteria. What is more, such adf.ly shortened links may be either parts of pay-per click schemes or be sites that may be scamming or malware containing. Either way it is highly recommended to stay away from spam messages that contain this web link due to the third-party risk involved.

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NameAdf.ly Spam Links
TypeMalicious domains being spammed by Referrer Spammers via adf.ly
Short DescriptionThe domains may do various dangerous or unhealthy deeds to the PC activities.
SymptomsThe user may witness fake Java Update downloads as well as redirects to other potentially harmful domains.
Distribution MethodVia clicking on any adf.ly links (For example adf(.)ly/?hrefasdi9/). By being redirected to it via a PUP (Potentially Unwanted Progra) causing pop-ups and redirects on the PC.
Detection ToolDownload Malware Removal Tool, to See If Your System Has Been Affected by Adf.ly Spam Links
User ExperienceJoin our forum to discuss about Adf.ly Referrer Spam.

help-removal-sensorstechforum

Adf.ly Referral Spam – What Does It Do?

This type of referral spam aims to use the legitimate adf.ly link shortening service that pays the person who shared the link per a user click. So as far as adf.ly is concerned they even report the spammers who use their services to spam via their URL shortening service. So adf.ly is NOT the one who spams you.

Back to the referrer spam, it is mainly two types:

Web Crawlers or Spiders

This type of spam is less aggressive since the bots are usually programmed to back away after being flagged by the certain website in order for them not to jeopardize the spamming operation this way. The name crawlers is there because the bot essentially crawl through websites and select which ones to spam based on various criteria. An example may be captcha which is easy to bypass, websites with low traffic and others.

Ghost Referrers

Ghost referral spam is a more sophisticated type of spamming attack because the software itself is reported by researchers like Ben Travis at viget.com to connect via using the HTTP pass through packets and hence spam without even being physically located on the website. What is more such spam attacks may be very hard to remove and may devalate your Google Analytics data very fast.

Curious fact
But bear in mind that there are very talented spammers that even outsource certain activites of their spam via services such as the former odesk.com. What they do is that they recruit odesk employees who have fast typing skills in order to pay them for a captcha test experiment or manual website captcha confirmations. What actually may happen Is that the user enters the captcha Identification that is required for the bot to bypass the defense and start spamming. This makes captcha defense utterly useless.

Protecting Yoursef from Adf.ly Referral Spam

In case you are a website administrator, you should look forward to the methods below, but bear in mind that they will block ALL adf.ly links and even users who are legitimate may not be able to post adf.ly content to your website. One way to counter this is to block the spammers by IP address but most spam bots use different proxy and VPN services so it is not a complete solution. We have suggested three methods below plus you can see more instructions in the article linked below:

Method 1: Filtering Adf.ly Spam in Google Analytics:

Step 1: Click on the ‘Admin’ tab on your GA web page.
Step 2: Choose which ‘View’ is to be filtered and then click the ‘Filters’ button.
Step 3: Click on ‘New Filter’.
Step 4: Write a name, such as ‘Spam Referrals’.
Step 5: On Filter Type choose Custom Filter –>Exclude Filter –> Field: Campaign Source–> Filter Pattern. Then on the Pattern, enter the domain name – adf.ly
Step 6: Select Views to Apply Filter.
Step 7: Save the filter, by clicking on the ‘Save’ button.
You are done! Congratulations!

Also, make sure you check out these several methods to help you further block out this referrer spam from Google Analytics:

https://sensorstechforum.com/exclude-all-hits-from-known-bots-and-spiders-in-google-analytics/

We have also researched the following methods to remove this spam:

Method 2: Block it from your server.

In case you have a server that is Apache HTTP Server, you may want to try the following commands to block domains in the .htaccess file:
RewriteEngine on

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*adf \.ly/ [NC,OR]

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*adf \-for\-website\.ly/ [NC,OR]

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ – [F,L]
Also here is a web link to some spam URLs being blacklisted from other servers:

https://perishablepress.com/blacklist/ultimate-referrer-blacklist.txt

Disclaimer: This type of domain blocking in Apache servers has not yet been tested and it should be done by experienced professionals. Backup is always recommended.

Method 3 – Via WordPress

There is a method outlined by security researchers online that uses WordPress plugins to block referrer spams from sites. There are many plugins that help deal with referrer spam, simply do a google search. We have currently seen one particular plugin reported to work, called WP-Ban, but bear in mind that you may find an equally good or better. WP-Ban has the ability to block users based on their IP address and other information such as the URL, for example.

Disclaimer: Bear in mind that Adf.ly is a completely legitimate service and you should focus on blocking the spammers by IP address instead of domain. Blocking adf.ly may prefent users to link reputable locations. However, if your website does not use adf.ly links except on spam messages, you should act towards its removal.

When it comes to protecting yourself from spam links going together with shortened URLs it is important to check whether or not any of the PCs in your organisation has been infected with malware. Also, if you or any other users you know have visited such links it is highly advisable to download an advanced anti-malware program that will perform such check automatically.

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Spy Hunter scanner will only detect the threat. If you want the threat to be automatically removed, you need to purchase the full version of the anti-malware tool.Find Out More About SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool / How to Uninstall SpyHunter

Vencislav Krustev

A network administrator and malware researcher at SensorsTechForum with passion for discovery of new shifts and innovations in cyber security. Strong believer in basic education of every user towards online safety.

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