Wednesday, 31 August 2016

How to protect your faucet from bots



After passing a lot of time setting up your new faucet and making your first deposit to your faucetbox account, you think that now you will finally start to earn some money. Unfortunately it happens too often that your account gets emptied in hours by a bot attack. Not only were your efforts in vain but you actually lost the money you deposited. For most, this means already the end of the adventure as a faucet owner.

About two years ago, I built a bitcoin faucet and invested a lot of time to do so. It was supposed to be a special faucet where people had to watch some videos and click the according button to be brought to the payout page. The payout was 3000 satoshis what was even much at the time. Somebody found a way to crack my system and I lost around 0.03 btc in one night.

Not only faucetbox faucets are attacked, also the custom faucets and the Xapo faucets are suffering under this threat. Often, the owners have no other solution than to close their faucet to cut the losses. It is not only the direct losses that have to be considered. When being attacked, your faucet may get thousands of artificial hits and either your server provider or your ad networks may create trouble for you.

faucet under bot attack
Bot attacks come often hand in hand with much higher referral payouts. A big rise in referral payouts is a trustworthy indicator that your faucet is under attack.

What can you do to protect your faucet against bot attacks?

I have been attacked over and over and I think there is no 100% solution to avoid bot attacks. I came up however with a strategy to keep the bot problem under control for my faucetbox faucets and I want to share it with you here. First I think that the bot designers have managed to create a way that gives the faucet the information that all the captchas are solved. So whether you use Google's recaptcha or solvemedia or any other service this has almost no influence on your protection.


Are antibotlinks the solution?

I included antibot links in my faucets and this helped in some ways but it still does not make my faucets bot proof. It is certainly better to use antibotlinks since you can prevent basic bot attacks. If you use antibotlinks, make sure that you create your own puzzles so that your faucet becomes different from all the others. You can change the puzzles in the file "antibotlinks.php" that you have to save in the folder "libs", in the array called “$word_universe=array();”. Just look at it and you will understand quite easily how to adapt it.

See this tutorial how to put the newest version of antibotlinks on your faucet: http://bit.makejar.com/labs/anti-bot-links-501/install.php

Please avoid putting your antibotlinks close to ads. If you do that, you are probably offending the terms and conditions of your ad networks and you just might get banned from them. Antibotlinks should only be used as a means to protect against bots not to generate fake ad clicks. Using antibotlinks is a good preventive measure to avoid attacks but not a warranty.


You have to be aware that you are under attack

Before you can do anything against a bot attack, you first have to be aware that you are facing one. In order to have a chance to see an attack coming, it is important to have a recent version of your faucetbox script on your page. Faucetbox is aware of the bot problem and they really try to do the best to help us to fight bots. With every new version there are additional tools at our disposal.

There are some measures that you can take in your faucetbox account. Go to your dashboard. In your faucet go under manage. There you have to click the currency of your faucet and set the maximal amount that is paid out every 30 minutes. Be sure not to leave this empty! Try to figure out how much you paid out in the last days and set the limit accordingly. 

Put a limit to protect your faucet from bot attacks
Set the maximal amount that you want to pay out per 30 minutes and ask
faucetbox to send you a mail when this limit is reached


The second step is to let faucetbox generate an e-mail when this limit is reached. Upon reaching the limit, your faucet does not pay anymore till the next half hour starts and it sends you an e-mail to let you know it. When you get e-mails regularly, this means probably that you are under attack and that you should do something about it. Since you have put a limit, you do not have to do anything immediately. The limit protects your assets but you should react so that the normal users can still claim from your faucet.


How to find out whether you are under attack?

First you have to make sure that you are really under attack. For that I have several indicators:

- Bot attacks come almost always with increased referral payments. Why would they claim only the normal payout if they do all the work to rip you off? So if you have much more frequent referral payouts that can be a sign.

- When I am under attack, I realized that bots are not registered by Google Analytics so there is a big gap between the number of visits and the number of faucet claims on Faucetbox. If there is a big discrepancy with the average numbers, this can indicate that bots are at work.

- If I have a btc address that brought a lot of referrals, I check in Google Analytics if there are people having used this referral address as entry to the faucet. With bots there is often not a single one.

If these indicators are not enough, I put my faucet in maintenance mode. I write in big that the faucet is under maintenance so that human users can see it well and I put the payout to 1 satoshis (for btc) and I put the referral commission to 100%. I check then in my faucetbox account (payouts) whether people are still claiming. If they do, well they are probably not people but bots. Why do I put the referral commissions to 100%? I want to see the referring addresses and to be able to see them, there needs to be at least 1 satoshi referral payout per claim.

What can you do when your faucet is attacked by bots?

1) Disable the faucet

If you are sure that your site is under attack, I would disable your faucet because the attack will not stop before you do something. Let the faucet run in maintenance mode some time before you disable it. To disable the faucet, just erase all the rewards in your admin page in the basic tab.

2) Ban the btc addresses

In the payout history of your faucet (in faucetbox dashboard) you can find all the addresses to which payments were made. Of all the people who claimed 1 satoshis, check the referring addresses first. Did you find them in Google Analytics? If not go to your faucet admin page and open the tab “Referrals”. Enter the btc address in the field and it will show you all the referrals of this address. Since you know that the referring address is a bot, you also know that the referrals are bots. You can ban all these addresses by pasting them into the field “List of cryptocurrency addresses to ban” on the security tab in the admin page of your faucet. To do it fast, I copy the whole list and paste it into a Microsoft excel sheet. Then I select only the column of the referrals and paste it into a text editor. This gives me a list with the addresses in the good order (one per line). I can now paste them into the field on my faucetbox admin page.

When banning addresses there is always the risk that you ban real people so do not ban if you are not really sure.

Banning addresses will probably not eliminate all the bots on your faucet but you make their endeavor much less profitable. If this measure is not enough, you should modify your faucet. Either by changing the layout, the puzzles of your antibotlinks or the captcha.

As a last resort you can use the new function of the faucetbox script which allows you to forbid embedding your faucet in an iframe. A bot is nothing else than a script that needs a support and by denying that your faucet is shown in a frame, makes the bots work much more difficult. Unfortunately this will also prevent your faucet from being placed in faucet rotators and you might lose a lot of users.

fight against bot by preventing that your faucet can be embedded
On the admin page of your faucet in the tab "basics" (from script version 64)
you can choose to disable embedding your faucet in  iframe from other domains  


As faucet owners, we have to live with this bot problem and I do not think that there is a 100% security available. With the measures above you have a solution to deal with the problem but it takes a lot of time to put into action and this just makes this business more expensive and less profitable. When I look at the faucet world today, this tendency is visible everywhere. The payouts are going down, more faucets are disabled and many disappear. In the long term and combined with the advertising restrictions of some ad networks, people using bots are ruining this small industry and I do not know whether there will still be owners out there trying to run a faucet business in a couple of months… I expect the worst and hope for the best. 

If you prefer to look for an alternative to earn money online you can try this:



If you have any suggestions or experiences in how you deal with bots, please share them with us and leave a comment below.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Is 4bc.co scam or legit?

How does 4bc.co work?

4bc.co is a crypto-currency based traffic exchange where you are paid to visit other user's pages. You can visit websites or videos and are paid in bitcoins, ethereum and bikercoin for every page you surf. With each page you visit, you also get the right to show one of your own pages or videos to other users. In addition, every day you log in you get 5 free visits to your sites. In short it is a traditional traffic exchange concept where you are paid for watching other user's pages. It is possible to purchase page views and also get a pro account with a lot of advantages.

4bc.co is a crypto-currency based traffic exchange that pays you for visiting websites

How can the admin pay the users for each visit?

The purchased views and the pro account probably cannot cover all the expenses that are generated by the page views of the users. In addition the site pays quite interesting fees for referrals which also have to be covered. So how does the site manage to pay for that?

Is 4bc.co scam?

I think that 4bc.co is legit. I have been able to get a payout out of the site and I think I understand how the concept is built up. There are two factors that will prevent you from earning a lot of money with the site.
First you can see each page only once. You get to see a lot of pages in the first days after opening your account. But later the number of pages that will be presented to you will be very small. The main bulk of the pages you see at the beginning are websites where the admin advertises affiliate products which could generate some income for him.
The second point that is against you is a very high payout threshold for all three currencies. Considering this, it will take ages to get a payout if you do not generate a big number of referrals to this program. Even if you manage to get some referrals, you will probably loose them over time because they get discouraged.

You will probably not make much money with 4bc.co but it is a good site to promote

No 4bc.co is not a scam but it will be difficult to get some money out of it. However, one should also consider the fact that the site offers a really interesting way to promote referral links and programs for free. Just log in once a day and get 5 views for free. See whether you can surf some pages and get some additional views like that. Since the window of the traffic exchange has to be active to let the timer go down, the quality of the advertisement is quite high and it would be even worth to invest in some page views in order to promote a program.

4bc.co is a good website to promote your programs

In short I like this program and I can only encourage people to sign up, knowing that they should use it as a promotion platform for their referral links.  

Friday, 26 August 2016

Why use a landing page to promote your referral link ?

Referral earnings can represent a very interesting income source. It is however not always easy to get these referrals. A big step to increase your chances is to promote a program through a landing page.

Why is it better to promote a landing page than directly your referral link?

Most of the time your referral link shows a standard page which is the same for all the users. It can be a sales page or a sign up page. Some programs provide also landing pages to choose from to promote your referral link but then the landing pages are also the same for all the users. So if you promote the same page like every body else, this does not exactly increase your chances of success.

There are many ways to promote a program but in most cases you have just a couple of seconds to catch the viewers attention. The problem with most referral links is that there is just too much content on the provided landing pages to be grasped in a couple of seconds. So instead of going through this content, the viewer just goes to the next advert.

What should a good landing page contain?

Only the essential! In as few words as possible, it should convey the main reasons why it is necessary to join the program. It should show the major benefits for the user. Ask yourself why you joined the program? A main title, a subtitle and couple of arguments are enough. Don't forget that you only have a couple of seconds to catch the viewers attention. The less content the better it is. A good landing page should also contain a call to action, a button that send to the real referral url.

You might say that it makes the process just longer if the user clicks a landing page first. What you want is that the user subscribes with the program and if you show him the benefits of it before he is sent to the subscription page, the chances will be much higher that he enrolls.

Some examples of not very successful referral urls and possible landing pages:


Ads4btc


This is the standard referral link of ads4btc which is the same for all the users and not really helpful to attract the viewers attention.

A possible landing page for the same program that points out the benefits of the program in a few words.

Clixsense


For a program that is very popular like clixsense, it is very difficult to get referrals. Especially if you use the standard referral url that looks like this:

There is just too much content and your chances to get new referrals with this page are very low.


This possible landing page tries to sum up the main benefits for the user.

Coinpower


Another example with a bitcoins program called coinpower. It is an interesting program but on this referral url it is not really clear what is website and what is ads. For a user who has only a couple of seconds to contemplate this page, it will just seem a mess.



A landing page can show the real advantages of the program:


How to build a landing page?

I have seen a lot of people struggle with landing pages. They gave up either because it takes to much time to create them or it is just beyond their technical capacities. I have a solution for them...


A free online tool to generate landing pages

I created a simple free online tool to generate landing pages in minutes. With this tool you can create responsive landing pages without coding knowledge. All the examples above have been created with this tool. Its big advantage is that you have a preview function that allows you to continually adapt your page till you have the result you wish. You can ad pictures and videos just by providing the url. There is the possibility to create several versions of the same landing page changing just the details. This can be very helpful to find out which landing page converts best.