At approximately 1:05 a.m. (EDT) today, the PP Blog began to experience unusually high traffic volume and a highly unusual traffic pattern. The source of the traffic is unclear. What is clear is that IPs from all over the world suddenly began to pull “old” stories, meaning that the URLs being pulled existed in the Blog’s archives — not in its current, front-page editorial well.
The pattern strongly suggests the event was engineered robotically. It does not appear likely that the visitors were actual readers. Along with URLs for individual “old” stories, the URLs of archived files for certain dates in 2009 and 2010 were pulled. There appears to have been no follow-up clicks to the archived files, which strongly suggests the visitors did not intend to engage in any actual reading. No spam was received during the period, which suggests the visitors had a purpose other than spamming.
Most of the visitors (the vast, vast majority, meaning on the order of 95 percent) displayed non-U.S. IPs. Dozens of international IPs making their first visit to the Blog sought virtually simultaneously to pull dozens of story links and links to archives. Logs suggest that most of the IPs had not been at the PP Blog prior to this morning’s event.
The event appears to have reached its peak at 2:08 a.m. Traffic to the Blog during the unusual event is preliminarily estimated at 10 to 20 times the normal volume.
A similar event occurred at the Blog on March 9, although this morning’s event was much broader in scope. The March 9 incident involved about nine IPs; today’s event involved dozens and dozens, with unusually large traffic volume from Europe, Asia, the South Pacific, Africa and South America. The Blog also recorded first-time visits from IPs in the Middle East.
A server snapshot taken at 1:20 a.m. shows 17 “live” IPs pulling stories or archives exclusively from 2009 and 2010. Only one U.S. IP is present in the snapshot, and the U.S. IP was making its first visit to the Blog. The PP Blog is published in the United States. Most of its traffic originates in the United States.