How to protect your Simple Machines Forum (SMF) from bots

You must be facing this weird problem of bot attack on your simple machines forum (SMF). These are very frequent attacks especially if you are hosting your forum on a top level domain (TLD). You must be really confused about what the #!@$% is happening right? Don’t worry this post will definitely fix your problem. But lets have a in depth analysis of what is happening and how to avoid it or stop it.

What is Happening?

Your forum is being maliciously attacked by number of bots. I don’t want to get into technical language to explain this to my blog visitors. So in simple terms, there is a sudden rise in the number of blog registrations. And all these members are registered with some weird names, their only purpose is to flood/spam your forum with different links or content, mostly for advertising their stuff through your top level domain forum. And trust me, this happens so fast that you just don’t see it coming. The picture below displays the bot attack on my forum. You can see a number of posts flooded by different bots in one of my forum boards.

 Simple machines forum Bot attack

forum registered bots

So how do we protect our forum ?

1) Email Activation

  • Turn on email activation for all new registered members.
  • Your Forum » Administration Center » Registration » Settings
  • Now all registered members will have to activate their account before posting.
  • But this doesn’t stop all of it for some reason.
  • Note: This did not help to tackle bots on my forum. It continued.

2) Code Verification for users having less than 10 posts

  • Go to Your Forum » Administration Center » Security and Moderation » Anti-Spam
  • change “Post count under which users must pass verification to make a post” value to 10
  • Note: This will stop bots from creating new post upto a certain extent.

3) Code Verification for new Registrations

  • Go to Your Forum » Administration Center » Security and Moderation » Anti-Spam
  • Enable “Require verification on registration page”

  • This will make all the individuals to enter a verification code in order to register on the forum.
  • Next step is to configure verification methods.
  • The image below displays my current configuration :

  • As you can see i have changed Visual Verification to ‘Medium‘ Level.
  • Then added few questions to check whether visitor is human or bot.
  • Questions like ‘Are you bot?‘, ‘whats the color of an apple?‘, ‘whats the name of our planet?
  • And then finally changed number of verification questions user must answer to 2
  • And click on save.

4) We are done

Now all the bot attacks on my forum have been stopped. I can see many bots trying to register themselves but are failing to do so because of the verification system. This is just great. And in any case if even 1 bot registers on your forum, He wont be able to post anything because we have also added post verification system, which will keep asking user to enter verification code who has posts less than 10. So i hope this helps you. And if you have any doubt, feel free to comment below.

5 ) Delete Existing registered bots (if any)

If there are existing registered bots on your forum, then delete all such accounts before they start messing up your forum. Even if there are some registered bots, they wont be able to create any topics because of the post verification system. However its better to delete these accounts to prevent any more problems.

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