SoftSecurity is super-fantastic for dealing with problematic edits by human users editing pages by hand. The basic mechanism, though, depends on dedicated and friendly community members giving PeerReview and outpacing any BrokenWindows.
Software enables humans to perform tedious tasks faster than they could by hand – sometimes, much much faster. One such task would be making hostile edits of wiki pages.
This page deals with some imagined and occasional real hostile software, and how to deal with it. It concentrates on attacks against Wiki openness, and ignores attacks at the HTTP or TCP/IP level, which are dealt with elsewhere on the Web. It’s also important to note that software doesn’t run on its own; somebody has to run it. SoftSecurity activities to negotiate with and re-integrate people that would run hostile software would also help, too.
This is a relatively simple class of program that walks Wiki links – or uses some kind of site table of contents – to find pages on the wiki. It then edits the pages, replacing them with graffiti, or blanking them, or generally causing mischief. A Wiki wiper is dangerous, mainly because for a fast wiper it can be hard for peers to revert the edits. They may overflow RecentChanges, or there just may be so many it’s tedious to find and revert them by hand.
This class of program watches a single page for edits. When it sees the page has changed, it reverts the page to a previous, desirable version – say, one with a controversial idea espoused.
This is an extension of the wiper spider idea. The same purpose applies, but instead of a single spider, multiple ones on different computers are involved – perhaps using hundreds or thousands of compromised computers (distributed via a trojan horse or worm). The idea being that there are so many automated editors that any response that depended on the wiper’s identity – user id or IP address – wouldn’t work.
Don’t give up so soon. What about:
This pages gives me a shiver. I wouldn’t mind leaving it here and develloping it and else copying it over on wikis where more intelligence reads it and thinks about possible solutions. I fear this is important and therefore there is something disillusioning about this page which will surely not stop us.
Oh, gosh, didn’t mean it to sound threatening. I just got the idea from reading about bots on WikiPedia. Wikipedia uses Wikipedia:Wikipedia:Bots for a lot of things: importing external data sources, spelling fixes, etc.
But source for the bots is not available (see Wikipedia:User:rambot). SecurityThroughObscurity is always a bit troubling. It’s better to think of ways to deal with security by acknowledging threats openly and dealing with them before they happen.
The whole thing is probably more important for wiki engine developers to think about, but I guess members of communities should know they have tools to deal with hostile software. --EvanProdromou
On one hand I think it would be nice if we discover a good solution to this problem. On the other hand, I don’t want to waste too much time worrying about the thousands of potential problems, the vast majority of which will never happen. There are too many other more productive and fun things I can do.