Freaky shadow

by Rob Martin on

Highly readable version

The webserver logs showed I was being followed on my path through a website by a computer at an IP address in Texas. It trailed two seconds behind me, on every page.

It was a dark and stormy day, and a strange thing happened while I was debugging some PHP code.

I was using error_log to pass some variables and values to the standard Apache log, and tailing it to make sure PHP was seeing what I wanted it to see. That was when I saw something I didn’t expect to see.

[Thu Jun 09 13:37:54 2011] [error] [client] Carrier: ...
[Thu Jun 09 13:37:54 2011] [error] [client] Returning ...
[Thu Jun 09 13:37:56 2011] [error] [client] Carrier: ...
[Thu Jun 09 13:37:56 2011] [error] [client] Returning ...

Each time I hit the page, my code logged the access. Then, a second or two later, another entry from a different IP address was also logged.

Everything I did was being shadowed by a server in Texas.

It took a few minutes of research to discover that the IP address belongs to one of ClickTale’s servers, and that the page I was modifying runs their analytic code. Freakiness abated.

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