How to make Apache (2.2.4) less greedy, or Sendmail less polite? [semi-solved]

Olaf Greve o.greve at
Tue May 8 12:51:49 UTC 2007

Hiya all,

Well, I promised you guys a follow-up on this, and here's what I have  
found out (first the situation and solution, and then two small  

The situation:
Firstly, I took some measures to figure out where the issues came  
from, and using Apache's "server-status" handler (tnx for that  
recommendation!), I noticed the script that caused Apache to choke up  
(i.e. grab an excessive amount of resources), was a PHP script that  
shows entries of photographic events that I organise from time to  
time. This didn't happen for all entries, but only for specific ones.
I then wondered why, as this script never caused trouble before, and  
while checking the server status I did already notice that the "store  
comments" script (allowing visitor's feedback to the entries) was  
called very often. Too often. I checked out the sizes of the comments  
files (which normally are very small plain text files, of perhaps  
some 4Kb size at most), and lo and behold: some of them were as big  
as 18Mb! The main issue then becoming that when these files were  
parsed as
text by PHP when an entry is shown, this either took a long time to  
complete, or in the worst case caused even a core dump to be  
generated by the over-excessive load on the server's resources.
Next, when checking the contents of those files, it became apparent  
that they were completely hammered with all sorts of typical  
commercial spam, referring to vi*gr* websites, etc. I think this is  
known as "forum spam" (or so), but my site uses custom scripts, so  
someone must have found the URL, and made use of it by manually  
figuring out the parameters and it's functionality.

The (partial) "solution":
For now, I have configured the webserver so, that ANY call to this  
"store comments" script is forbidden, and will simply generate a  
standard server error (hopefully the spammers will signal these  
server errors, and will stop the hack attempt), while I am looking  
into a better solution (e.g. by having to type additional text (anti- 
spam challenges) when posting a comment). But then, as mentioned  
above, someone went through the trouble of figuring out how to  
manipulate my code, and hence caused me a LOT of time being wasted,  
so I want to "reward" them for their trouble, by punishing the  
responsible people as much as possible. Therefore, I will go through  
the Apache access log to work out the IP addresses of
the machines that were used for this, and I will report them to the  
proper anti spam authorities, such that they will be blacklisted  
Internet wide. If anyone knows of good places to do so (the more, the  
merrier), I welcome hearing about them...

The questions:
-Can anyone recommend me proper anti spam authorities to whom I can  
report the IP addresses that caused the issues on my machine?
-At present, in Apache I have added:
<Location ~ "store_comments_script.php">
     Order deny,allow
     Deny from all
Can anyone tell me of a good way to only ever allow calls to this  
script coming from the proper previous script, or should this be  
handled from PHP itself?
Perhaps this question isn't very clear, but what I'm looking for is a  
way to block any and all direct calls to this script, that originate  
from anywhere but from the photography site itself.

Can anyone help me perhaps with those two thingies?

Tnx once more, and cheers!

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