Web Form Spam: What Is It and What Does It Mean?

Web Forms are web pages that web sites use to allow the viewer to fill in information to be conveyed to the site owner. For instance, a potential customer can ask a question about a product or shipping, or make a restaurant reservation. Hopefully the arrival of a web form result in your inbox is a good thing!  Unfortunately hackers and spammers can sometimes ruin a trusted conduit of information.

But have you ever received form results that look like this?

Subject: **** Web Site Form results for GarageDoors.com
CustName:  fgjln4xl
CustEmail: w1ihj@bsjkrem8.com
ProductName:  leufavecbafe
Comments:  r82qVX3 http://lutiwncrcykn.com lutiwncrcykn</a>


Subject: **** Web Site Form results for Weddings.com
name:  WrennyFew
email:  tammara@gmail.com
comments:  Attention Fellow Skiers
Spending the weekend at <a href=http://www.tripcart.com/New-Hampshire/ski/Stow.html> Stow Ski</a> .
Still crowded?
Out west ,
frequented every weekend, like  <a href=http://www.tripcart.com/California-Coast/ski/Mountain.html>Mountain High Ski Resort</a> and <a href=http://www.tripcart.com/usa-regions/California-Desert/ski/Bear-Mountain.html>Big Bear Ski Resort</a>

submit:  Send Message


Everyone asks:   What Does It Mean?     Did They Break Into My Account?   
                           Why Are They Doing This?     How Can I Stop This?

These examples are one of many nonsense and spam advertising variations of web form spam. There are two basic kinds:

  1. Advertising spam: The contents of the web form will be filled in with real (English) sentences trying to sell a product. The more sophisticated ones even are worded to appear to be a real SALES INQUIRY in order to attract your attention and raise your hopes for a sale, until you read on that they are not inquiring about YOUR products but rather want YOU to inquire about THEIR products.
  2. Jibberish/nonsense spam: The contents of the web form (as in the above example) is jibberish (gobbledygook) and if it includes an email contact or web site URL those would be random letters strung together with a .com after it. No one knows why someone has taken the energies to program a bank of computers to be sending these out, since there's no financial gain for anyone. And, because there are usually only one or two sent to any one given web site owner, they wouldn't have the purpose of a competitor trying to distract you or clog your email. We estimate that about one-third of all web form spam is of this useless nature. Someone has too much time on his hands (and yes its usually a male). Go figure.

The advertisers of course are trying to use this route to get around the spam filters set up for basic email messages, where traditionally all of the spam has been sent. Typically, site owners will have their spam filters set to permit ALL web form contents to be allowed through to their inbox without filtering (because of the risk of filtering a potential new client).

The source of these messages is usually a "bot" (an automated computer script/program) that acts as a robot to tirelessly 24/7 search for web forms and fill them out. In most cases, the bots don't even use the SUBMIT button provided, but rather they have "scraped" your form's web page, and they will execute a generic SUBMIT of their own.

In some rare cases, people are hired to sit all day in internet cafes in foreign countries to paste in a more customized message. This is labor intensive and even though the hired worker gets pennies a day, it's most often not worth it, and the spammers resort to the automated script method.

It's important to note that no one has broken into your account, and your web site is not compromised. It's just that your web form is there for the "taking" (filling out and submitting), and so anyone/anything can do it from anywhere. It's certainly annoying, isn't it?! (As if we all don't have enough clutter in our (business) lives and entropy in the universe.)

How Can I Stop All This Web Spam?

You really cannot expect your email spam filter to accurately ferret out spam from real business inquiries - usually your customers will write you using terminology that include technical or product specification words, which to a spam filter look like someone is sending you product information (and they are!) (but concerning your own products).

FormBlocker™ Technology to the rescue.

SherwoodHosting LLC has developed proprietary Form-Blocker Technology as a Swiss-army-knife-approach tool that not only filters web form spam, but also provides MANY other features for:

  • formatting (let's get this information to be more readable instead of formatted for geeks!),
  • delivery (cell phone text message, fax, database archiving), and
  • advanced features such as customized "gadgets" for the web form, field validation, etc.

Example of FormBlocker custom formatting for received email messages that contain form content as filled in by viewers:



The following was submitted on June 18th, 2009 at 06:42PM (EDT).
BobsFormMail version 1.9 -

Subject: **** Web Site Form results for GarageDoors.com
CustName:  Jane Doe
CustEmail: Jane@builders.com
CustPhone: 410-234-1234
ProductInterest: Wide stainless steel ultra-glide door
DeliveryTimeNeeded:  March-April timeframe
Comments:  Hi, I need specs and pricing on your ultra-glide door. I'm particularly interested in the weight of the door and how much force is needed to operate it in cold weather, and if you know of any problems with it being able to stay put (if halfway open)
submit:  SUBMIT - Send my Inquiry Request Now
mailprog = '/usr/lib/sendmail -i -t';


FORMATTED MESSAGE   (Make it easy on yourself!)

Web Form Results provided by FormBlocker™ ©2010       SPAMSCORE=0

Jan 26, 2009 21:46

Cust Name
Jane Doe
Cust Email
Cust Phone
Product Interest
Wide stainless steel ultra-glide door
Delivery Time Needed
March-April timeframe

Hi, I need specs and pricing on your ultra-glide door.

I'm particularly interested in the weight of the door and how much force is needed to operate it in cold weather, and if you know of any problems with it being able to stay put (if halfway open)

(this is the default/standard format -
it can be customized for your needs (easy to eliminate header, for instance))