by   January 28 2011   
XCtM Project History. The Story behind the code. Find out what inspired this code and the events that took place during the first design.

XCtM XtremeComputer Tracking and Monitoring

Update: If you use networks for what they are designed for tracking isn't anything you should be worried about. For those that look to use systems for other than what they were designed to do then XCtM is right for you.

What is the XCtM Project?
XC = Xtreme Computer
tM = Tracking and Monitoring.

I've been a webmaster since I was allowed to purchase a server in 1994.

The role of a webmaster has changed over the years from what I see. In the day we used Notepad.exe to start a site and any graphics progam we could get our hands on. Toss a few lines hook it to a database and away you go!

With that said the projects here are designed more for the creative type of sites that have public communications like forums, service requests, guestbooks, Weblogs etc.

Anytime you allow the public to interact with your site you will have a few bad apples.

I see my share but the 10,000 per day visiting sites that I manage makes up for the few hundred that work to disrupt the flow of positive interaction.

Just a word about the API. You can reverse engineer until your blue in the face and still not get the full structure. Give it a try if you would like but when a programmer creates from notepad it's not something you'll find in a box at Bestbuy.

I assign API Keys to sites that I believe can help the project.
If you are looking for a Spam Blocking system for your WP Blog then StopForumSpam.com or BotScout.com and any number of other sites will work.

This API does more than just detected SQL Injection attempts. It does more than monitor connected IP addresses and far beyond monitoring the email and username when registering with the site.

The XCtM Project is a grass roots project that is slowly indexing pages without the need of a spider bot. In fact spiders help index our own site in our internal directory without even making a call to them.

The Tracking is all about finding ways of following a visitor not because we want to spy on them but to make sure they are finding just what they are looking for. If I could suggest a page I would and that's called Custom Service.

The Monitoring side of the API is to make sure those that wish to distrupt a site are slowed down to a crawl. Monitoring only starts when a script is run against our system as an attack.

With major focus on eCommerce I know attacks are normal and numbers of attacks grow as the online business grows.
In turn the XCtM Project will grow.

From Day One the problem of Spam, Hacks and Fraud were very clear to me. In business for less than 2 days and logged 12 fraud attempts as well as 500 database hack attempts.
Hours reading logs and looking for patterns have paid off.
Today scripting against scripts can cut as much as 80% of your known attacks down.

I had to find my own soluction because the .Com companies thought $3,500.00 per month to remote scan a server was worth it. Small business is lucky to make that in gross.

And I'm talking about a period between 1996 and 1998!

Today it's unreal what I see but I really haven't had to worry much because learning what hackers and spammers do has been years of long log file reading experience and code testing.

I have shared small scripts and plug-ins with the Snitz forums groups over the years but never to the general public and never API's that connect with my services. This has been the biggest decision that I have had to make since upgrading from 3.11 to NT.

The questions I have are:
1. Will my applications be helpful to others?
2. Will the functions actually handle the load?
3. Will I be able to put in the time to debug these applications under different environments?
4. Will I have time to create new applications that can all be shared.

With these questions posted I guess the only way to find out is to let things fly.

So here goes.

The XCtM Project is Open to the Public!
(Funny, I don't see the hit counters going up. Maybe it's the plain colors I use in this site.)


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

RULES OF THIS SITE AND EVERY APPLICATION OFFERED
1. Have Fun.
2. Be creative.
3. Don't get mad or upset.
4. Be Friendly.

Why are my first four rules about personal things?
Because over the years I have seen short tempered programmers and users that think demanding is the way to get things done.

Positive attracts Positive in all cases when you are bundled as a human element.

So always remember to write, speak, act as you would for yourself.

5. Post Quality Subject Lines.
Finding "I need Help" will only get your post removed.
Be content specific and keep on topic.

6. All applications are GPL and Commons unless listed.
The key to all things is Exposure.
Programmers earn by having their programs and names exposed.
If you use anything, then link back to the site page you got it from and be sure to list the name or site name of the developer.

When all you have to do is Copy and Paste you should know the developer had to think up the idea, code the idea, test the idea then sell the idea to you. It wasn't anything close to Copy and Paste.

The script could even be 3 lines long but might have taken hours or days to setup because of testing.

Give Credit at all times! And if you can afford to donate a dime or two then do that also.


SideWiki Comment Monitor
The Comment Monitoring system I setup was because Google Developers forgot to let webmasters know where the comments are posted.
Read my "Posting Under the Radar" or follow the post from googles own 404 Page Not Found http://www.google.com/test/one/two/three/

With the SideWiki Comment Monitor tested and working great it set the road to another project that will be starting this week.

Technical Search API Driven Directory
Homeland Tech Support is going to be a API driven Technical Resource Search Directory.

This one I'm building for myself and willing to share it with anyone that manages Technical websites.
No Blogs that only post 1 tech article each month and you need to be a technical person really to be able to support what you post.

Anyway, the API feeds are going to cover the number one issues all webmasters have when it comes to Yahoo, MSN, Google.
My Title has change, Page Description, Keywords then wait and wait and wait for the little spiders to index them all again.

Bang, then you find you missed some words.
This has and always will be a major issue.
So I thought.
If you make updates every 5 days and use your meta tags correctly then allow your page to be updated every 5 days by you or your visitors hit.

Actually it's more, when Slurp, Google, Bing, or any bot hits your page it will update if needed to the search directory.
This should make things faster and easier for webmasters when making changes.

If it works and people like the idea and actually search the site we might look into direct feeds to search engines just to help them out.

Bottom line is that old fashioned Human Run Search Engine Directory that has ignored my site for more than 10 years is going to be just a memory of what the internet once was.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Spammers
Spam is a tough market to crack.
You have many online applications and sites that setup databases full of spam emails, usernames and IP addresses.
But are they really spammers?

Here we go back to the days when all I had was a firewall and I had to manually configure every IP block each day to keep up with the junk.

Now I let my API do the feeling then I review the issue and post to a database. Once you hit the spam database it's really because you are a spammer.

the XCtM Project covering Spam is only Website Spam which includes, Forums, Blogs, Comments, Forms, etc. Anything that is submitted could carry spam and this is what I use to defend against it all.

The Spam Database is small but it's only been online with my sites since August.
You can see it here.
XCtM v2.0 Project
If you scroll a little down you'll find the counts of how many attempts were blocked for so little number of IPs.

It shows Spammers are close to being Network Partners instead of theat Rogue Computer Owner so many think.

HACKERS and the XCtM Project
Hackers are kind of cool if you ask me.
They drift off into their little worlds and look for that weakest link to follow.
I can say I don't really worry because I don't work for Microsoft. Ha!
No, it's a pain to rebuild after a hack but you learn what it's all about and start thinking before you do things.

SQL Injection is still easy to do online.
The issue is how do you stop it or guard against it all.

This is going to be a very long and on going project when PHP is included in the mix.
The SQL Injection scripts are bundled with the main XCtM API and return a Hack Score which you can test for yourself.

Take note, I am really easy going so I let you have 20 attempts to ask permission to be allowed back. After that you are out and only your NOC admin will be able to have that IP address released from the banned list.

If you know some good SQL Injection Scripts give them a try.
If not you can copy the short one below to see what happens.

 

XCtM Project History. The Story behind the code. Find out what inspired this code and the events that took place during the first design.