Statsd and Carbon security

I’ve written about installing and using Graphite and it’s a really great tool for measuring lots of kinds of metrics. Most of the guides online don’t touch on the security aspects of this setup, and there was at least one thing that I thought should be worth writing about.

How are we measuring

Metrics we gather from our applications have the current characteristics / requirements:

  • We want to gather lots of data over time.
  • Any single data-point isn’t significant on its own. Only in aggregate.
  • Measuring is important, but not if it slows down our application in any way.

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Rackspace ate my homework pt. II

For those who followed my previous post, I thought I should post a quick update.

Something positive

I was naturally quite surprised to be contacted rather quickly by Rackspace shortly after posting. This was a nice surprise, and the contact afterwards were somehow more understanding. At least I could sense they are feeling sorry for my situation.

Lost homework

As expected, there was no way to recover the lost image. I received a follow-up message on the original ticket confirming this quite clearly. They then rather swiftly changed the tone into legal-speak and referred me to their terms of service, which I quote here for the benefit of the world at large.

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More ActiveAdmin Customizations with CanCan

Coming from Django, I was a little surprised/disappointed that permissions aren’t very tightly integrated with the Rails ActiveAdmin as they are with the django admin. Luckily, my search for better authorization for ActiveAdmin has led me to this very informative post by Chad Boyd. It makes things much easier so we can authorize resources more flexibly.

However, there were a couple of aspects that I still wasn’t 100% happy with:

  1. When an unauthorized action is attempted, the user is simply redirected with an error message. I personally like to return a 403 response / page. Yes, I’m nitpicking. I know.
  2. Default actions like Edit, View and Delete still appear. They are not dependent on the permission the user has. Clicking on those won’t actually allow you to do anything, but why have some option on the screen if they are not actually allowed??

So with my rather poor Ruby/Rails skill, and together with my much more experienced colleague, we’ve made a few tweaks to the proposal on Chad’s post to make it happen.

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Simple Detection of Comment Spam in Rails

It’s always nice to be able to get some feedback, or for users to make a contact via a simple Contact form. However, it didn’t take too long before spammers started hitting those forms too. It was quite interesting to see the kind of messages we started receiving. In a way, most of those submissions were more like stories, or snippets from an email to a friend. They didn’t have any of those very much expected keywords for fake watches or erectile dysfunction enhancers. Many didn’t even have any links either. So what were these messages then? My personal guess was that these were some kind of a reconnaissance attempts. The bots were sending innocent messages first to various online forms. Then I imagine they will crawl the site more, trying to see if those submissions appear elsewhere. If/when they do, they will hit those forms hard with the real spam content. In any case, these were all speculations that I didn’t really care to prove right or wrong. I just wanted to get rid of this junk. Fast.

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