How to protect your online business from spam signups

January 30, 2017

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With online businesses choosing seamless registration experience over security, the problem of spam signups has only increased multi-fold. According to a study, an incredible 82 percent of businesses struggle with fake users. These fake users can create havoc to your online business by skewing your subscriber data, denting your online reputation and impacting your bottom line.

How does one save their online business from spam signups by bot accounts, scammers and fake users?

Before getting into the ‘how’, let’s first understand a little more about spam signups really mean.

The idea behind signup forms

A sign up form is a strategic marketing move; an important part of your sales process that’ll help you stay engaged with your customers. The signup process creates a database of users that access your web properties. At the same time, it supplies important demographic data about users which helps in understanding the user behaviour and then customizing the whole user experience.

What are spam signups?

Every society has its own set of problems. The virtual world is a society in itself. It’s the truth that spamming is an issue of the virtual world. Bots (also known as web robots) are Automated Software applications. These are built to find Signup forms on websites or blogs and submit fake information to their lists. In other words, Fake Signups. Also, it is a form of spamming.

These kind of fake signups create a negative impact on the user database, as this same information is used by you to make business decisions – one of which is analysing the customer behaviour. This ultimately makes it difficult to know who your typical subscriber is or how to target relevant content to specific subscribers. In this way, it damages the reputation and the revenue (ROI).

So, what are they capable of?

Let’s look at these spam signups as that kid in class who loves to disrupt the lecture, just for fun. At the exact moment that the class would get interesting, this kid would say or do something that would distract the professor and puff! The class would become a task to sit through, again. Similarly, spam signups are those that disrupt businesses. Though not on the same level as the kid mentioned above, these are capable of making it a task for the businesses to reach out to their genuine customers. Other ways in which spam signups affect businesses are:

  1. Slowing Down of the website Performance
  2. Spam Comments and Spam Leads or Form Spam

And finally,

How do we protect online business from spam signups?

A number of methods have been developed to prevent (or at least reduce) spam signups. Following are some of the popular ways of prevention, which are widely used.

  1. CAPTCHA

One of the most prevalent forms of security check, CAPTCHA is mainly used to differentiate humans from bots. The most widely used CAPTCHA scheme uses distorted characteristics that humans can recognise, but automated scripts will face difficulties in recognizing.

CAPTCHAs are designed in such a way that it requires simultaneous use of abilities like invariant recognition of variation in shapes and sizes, segmentation of words, and parsing (the ability to identify each letter correctly). Although, this alone cannot perfectly put an end to spamming, they are a good start. At the same time, one should also look into other security aspects as well.

 

  1. MOBILE NUMBER VERIFICATION

This is a popular way of verification, most widely used in the banking sector. The user receives a verification code on their mobile phone, which they have to provide in their form, during the security check. This is a very effective method as it requires interaction with humans. But relying only on this becomes burdensome when the user has no mobile device or active network coverage.

 

  1. DOUBLE OPT-IN PROCESS

This is a way of verifying the email id, by confirming the link which is received to the user’s id. However, this could also be insufficient; bots are able to confirm the link by signing into the account.

 

  1. HONEY POTS

It is a computer security mechanism set used to detect the unauthorised use of information. It acts as decoy to lure cyber attackers. Honeypots are the hidden fields added to the User Registration form that humans are unable see. This is because of CSS or JAVA script, which is used to hide the field. This is beneficial from the user’s point of view, as it does not create any inconvenience to them. Spam bots are likely to fill all the fields, including the hidden one, alerting you to their spamming activity.

 

These are just few of the popular ways. There are numerous more, should one look for them.

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