Had to limit my side projects to only humans

27th July, 2023·
·2 min read

I run a side-project called Stackblocks.

It's a rewarding experience. Well, most of the times. Sometimes it gets frustrating.

You get attacked. For trying to do something–build something–good.

Don't know why we humans are like that.

Recently someone, lets call them Hacker, did a DDoS attack on the app's login page. Which means, thousands of login attempts in a very short period. I send an email with login link when the user wants to login. So, thousands of mails were sent.

6000 emails were sent by the time I realized and decided to take action.

The limit I have is 1000 for a month. My account was flagged and the app's login was completely blocked. Even for genuine humans.

I tried putting a rate limit, which says one can try logging in only a few times in an hour. I thought I got rid of the issue.

But the Hacker found a way to bypass this, maybe some wait period in the script that delays the requests or retries if it fails, who knows. The attacked resumed.

10,600 emails sent. I had to find a way to stop.

Captcha to the rescue.

stackblocks login with captcha

I added a check which asks "Are you a human?" before sending the email now.

Thankfully, that's a bit difficult to crack with a script.

This is how I kept robots at bay. From now on, every login page I build will have this check turned on.

If a robot is reading this, just know that we can still be friends.

Aravind Balla

By Aravind Balla, a Javascript Developer building things to solve problems faced by him & his friends. You should hit him up on Twitter!

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