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I own a website ( Ostetso ) that is targeted at iOS app developers. We provide cloud services for developers who want to add a social network into their apps. On the website, users can download our SDK and register for our service. Over the past week or so I have noticed about three or four registrations a day coming in from users with email addresses at the same 163.com domain. The email addresses look as if they are bot generated and these registrations all seem to me to be fake accounts.

I can't think of any reason why someone would want or need to create fake accounts with us. Does anyone here have opinions on that? Is this something I should be concerned about?

Thank you!

  • Click-farming is a real thing, and spammers work in mysterious ways. Could be harmless. – 0xSheepdog Apr 20 '17 at 19:04
  • If you have a resource (like a download or a documentation) which i want and you hide it behind a login wall then of course i will create a throw away account. – BlueWizard Apr 21 '17 at 5:01
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I can't think of any reason why someone would want or need to create fake accounts with us.

I think the basic answer to that is that someone will, and at least part of the reason might be because they can.

Your SDK page mentions that you send an email to the address provided to confirm account details, which presumably means the batch of addresses you are concerned about have been verified (i.e. before actually creating the account, you have ensured the address used for registration is owned by the entity making the registration).

In which case, short of generic things like monitoring account resource usage and general activity, there isn't really a lot it seems you can do. The registrations followed the same flow as a genuine user would.

If you have a concern about these accounts, then I guess it you could consider banning/disabling them and seeing if the users get in touch (or heavily limit their account quotas).

I don't know, though, if 3/4 registrations a day for something like this from a domain like 163.com (or gmail.com, for that matter) is hugely significant - or whether it might be people hearing about your site. Even over a couple of weeks, that's under 60 accounts, and it might be a short spike.

But do consider having a plan to identify accounts that abuse your service, and a mechanism for dealing with them.

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I can't visit your site right now to see its capabilities, but on a few personal sites I maintain, I've had issues with obviously bot-generated accounts being registered, laying dormant for some time and then all of them waking up and link-bombing every user input form on the site.

They register as many accounts as they can over a few months so it's harder to clean up the mess once they've bombed the site-- you can't just run a "delete from posts where user = 'xyz'" since it's performed by 1000+ different accounts.

(Side note: In the financial services industry, we've been seeing a lot of fraudulent activity originating from these 3-digit numeric domains. I don't know if it's a legit Chinese mail service or not, but AFAWC they're always trouble.)

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