What is form spam and why you should be wary of it
Form spam is spam that arrives via your website forms. It can be annoying, a waste of time and sometimes even dangerous. Most of the time, form spam is sent through a contact form’s name and email fields, but spammers can also use your website’s forms to send spam through other fields as well.
Form spam can be frustrating, because it wastes your time by forcing you to sift through nonsensical messages in order to find legitimate inquiries. These messages can make it difficult to keep track of important leads.
Types of form spammers
Most of us have likely encountered form spambots, those annoying little pests that submit fake data to your web forms. Form spam bots generally fall into one of three categories:
These are the most common and most irritating type of form spambots. They’re usually preprogrammed with a list of keywords and forum URLs that they’ll automatically detect and then submit their spam message to.
Spammer-bots are the most difficult to stop, mainly because they’re constantly evolving their methodologies and often have thousands of variations. This means that any static filtering mechanism is just not going to cut it.
Although less common than spammer-bots, these are easier to stop as they don’t use sophisticated botnet technology. These bots will simply crawl your site looking for forms or links, then harvest the URL of the site for later use. They tend to be used in two ways: either directly by spammers posting messages on forums or blogs (forum spam) or by other bots that are part of a larger botnet.
There’s also no shortage of human spammers who will manually fill out your forms for financial gain.
- Comment spammers: These are the ones you’ve probably heard of, who try to post links to their websites on your WordPress forms with the intention of gaining traffic and boosting their Google rankings.
- Harassers: This type of spammer is usually motivated by anger over something you’ve written in a blog post, or even something you have posted on social media. They may use your contact form to send harassing messages, or even threats.
- Scammers: This type of spammer tries to trick people into handing over personal information or money by posting links to fake websites or trying to feed them malware.
8 tips to prevent form spam
Use the Honeypot method:
The Honeypot method is a system designed to prevent form spam. It uses an invisible form field to catch bots, while still allowing human visitors to submit the form as usual.
It’s a simple technique and it doesn’t require any additional coding or programming skills. This makes it simple for anyone to use and extremely effective for preventing form spam.
Add an invisible text field to your form:
Spambots can be programmed to fill out forms on the web and then submit them automatically. Adding an extra layer of security with an invisible text field ensures that spambots will not have the capability to perform submissions.
The reason for this is that humans cannot read or type into an invisible text field, but spambots can. If a spambot tries to fill in a non-existent field, it will automatically be marked as spam.
Google’s reCAPTCHA protects you and your site from spam and other types of automated abuse. When you add reCAPTCHA to a form, it will help determine if the form is being filled out by a person or a robot.
If the user passes this challenge, the form will submit as normal. Otherwise, it will show an error message. This prevents robots from filling out your forms with spammy information.
Validate all submitted data:
It’s so important to validate form data because hackers are always looking for ways to break into your website and make changes to your database.
Form validation i’s the process of ensuring that every single piece of data submitted into your form is legitimate. If not, you can then redirect them back to the form with an error message to submit the correct information..
Block suspicious users with a blacklist plugin:
The best thing about using a blacklist is that it protects your inbox before the spam even gets delivered. Once an email has been blacklisted, it will be rejected and not allowed to come through to your inbox.
Since the blacklist is constantly being updated, you can rest assured that you are receiving the most up-to-date protection possible from these plugins.
Don’t send emails using your own server:
Sending emails from your own server on a web form is a bad idea. Not only can it be slow, but you also run the risk of being blacklisted by content filters if you don’t take precautions. Luckily, there are simpler alternatives that will let you focus on developing your code.
Install anti-spam plugins:
Spam can be a serious security risk for your site and your users. So, it’s important to install anti-spam plugins on your forms, so you don’t have to waste time deleting spam submissions. It’s difficult to quantify the effects of spam on your business, but it’s almost certain that it hurts conversions in some way.
Verify the email address:
One of the best ways to improve form conversion rate is to verify the email address on your form. This one small step will drastically reduce the number of fake emails you receive from your forms.
Fake or invalid email addresses ruin conversion rates as high as 40%. And using professional email verification software increases valid email address submissions by about 15%.
As seen above, prevention of form spam is something website owners strive for. It makes a more comfortable place for their visitors to browse. Hopefully this article has provided some insights and tips into what you can do to prevent form spam on your website.
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