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10-Minute e-Mailers and the grief

We have begun to continuously monitor traffic, as part of providing real-time chat support through Woopra on Woopra is an invaluable service to our operations, and we recommend it highly for any tech startup.

Today, we came across a new account which was continuously pinged, in fact 556 times today. As a general rule of thumb, we investigate any account that is pinged more than 100 times a day with the same behaviour, which indicates existence of a script created for whatever the reason. In this instance, each time was pinged, it goes through the same 3 steps; login to account and visit the account page twice. And then restart the same sequence again and again.

Whilst above behaviour is not new, when we investigated the account and the associated email address, we discovered a service, which creates email address that automatically expire after 10 minutes.

The creator of this service says:

Why would you use this? Maybe you want to sign up for a site which requires that you provide an e-mail address to send a validation e-mail to. And maybe you don’t want to give up your real e-mail address and end up on a bunch of spam lists. This is nice and disposable. And it’s free. Enjoy!

But, in our case, the opposite is happening. Further analysis showed that 10 accounts out of 30,632 were created with this service. As expected we took immediate action against these accounts. Looks like we need to build functionality that prevent signups with email addresses created by this service.

I have kept the name of the service out of this blog post to not encourage others to use it. If your business suffers from similar issues, do share them with us.