Tarpitting

What Does Tarpitting Mean?

Tarpitting is a network security and optimization process through which network administrators (NA) intentionally slow down the propagation of mass emails by restricting and demotivating spammers from sending bulk messages.

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This process is derived from a server, Teergrube ("tar pit" in German), which prevents spammers from using/connecting to a server by deliberately granting access to all new requesting users or machines.

Techopedia Explains Tarpitting

Tarpitting allows network and server administrators to maintain a high degree of network operation and maximum bandwidth availability. It works when a server identifies a client’s abnormal email operations. Typically, such behavior is exhibited by spammers that have thousands of emails to send in a very limited period. When a NA/server identifies this type of user/client, it slows down or "tarpits" the process, eventually preventing spammers from succeeding.

Spammers also use tarpitting to reverse the process in such a way to prevent detection by a monitoring user/application/server. For example, to avoid being tarpitted, a spammer may send bulk emails in short batches over a relatively longer period than usual.

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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.