From blocking web crawlers to becoming a CrowdSec ambassador
In the series of interviews with CrowdSec ambassadors, we’re talking to Bennet Gallein, one of our German ambassadors.
Bennet also works at Esyoil where they are actively using CrowdSec in their production environment as he will explain in the interview. Actually, Bennet first reached out to us with suggestions for improvement but then ended up liking CrowdSec so much that he enrolled as an ambassador. We’re very happy about that and for everything, he’s done to help out. Especially in the Discord community where Bennet takes part in a team of moderators to keep everything going in a good way and keep our Discord server a helpful and inclusive community.
Can you tell us a bit about you and your background?
Hi, my name is Bennet and I'm a software developer from Germany. While that is my official job role, I also do a lot of system administration stuff at work and in my free time. I’m interested in Servers, their Hardware, and of course running software. I also have an interest in large networks and communication within these networks so I kinda developed knowledge in all the fields over the years.
How did you find out about CrowdSec and what about it made you want to try it out?
I found out about CrowdSec at the end of 2020 on a cozy evening on Reddit. I checked out the website and the documentation to understand how the name “CrowdSec” is put together exactly. After that, I immediately shared the link with my boss, since we were searching for a similar tool at the time. We tried many solutions in the past, we even routed our traffic overseas for analysis. The last thing we checked was AWS WAF, but it did not match our criteria in a technical sense, so we weren’t even able to analyze traffic with it.
CrowdSec's idea of bringing multiple data sources together and blocking IPs even before they do something bad to our infrastructure is - together with the log-analysis aspect - the main reason why we decided to give it a shot.
What is your current role in relation to CrowdSec?
At the moment, I’m helping out on CrowdSec's Discord server. I keep the community healthy and help with issues that arise. Due to my origin as a software developer, I also build tools that make the work of Discord moderators easier and the experience for the community more enjoyable.
What made you want to become a CrowdSec ambassador?
After learning a bit about it and deploying it in our environment, I got more and more into the idea behind it and found it quite interesting. I want to support the growth in any way possible and I think being an ambassador is a good opportunity to do that.
How do you use CrowdSec at Esyoil and what is the value it brings to the business?
I work at Esyoil, a heating-oil price-comparison website, where we build the bridge between dealers (those who sell the oil and deliver it to the customer) and customers. The idea is to let the customer get a good price and open the market, making prices more competitive and transparent.
While normally writing the code that runs the page and all the associated systems, I also take care of our vast server environment in AWS. We have many servers that need to be exposed to the internet. Having them exposed opens up the risk of them being attacked - which we don’t want to happen for obvious reasons.
While straight-up brute forces are one problem, we also recently started having issues dealing with crawlers, which are just regular people who wrote scripts to scan our website for prices. This in itself is not a real problem for us. But when people exaggerate that and call our pages many times in a minute or different zip codes with different amounts of oil to get the price, internal tools start to spit out wrong data. And of course, server-load increases, we have more traffic, just more expensive in general.
With CrowdSec we are able to block those crawlers directly on the edge of our infrastructure. So they don’t even trigger the chain of requests that would otherwise happen, resulting in lower costs, less stress on the servers, and more accurate readings of analytics tools.
What is your vision for using CrowdSec at Esyoil?
While we just started rolling out and integrating CrowdSec in all our applications, I want to make it a default for every new service we launch which gets exposure to the internet. The data we have can be beneficial to the community and other e-commerce providers who are in the same situation. While a competitive market is important for growth, sysadmins should join forces and fight together - since we are all basically fighting the same bad guys over and over.
What advice would you give others thinking about becoming a CrowdSec ambassador?
If you have a reason to think you might be fitting to be an ambassador, just do it. The more there is to get the word out there, the better. If you think CrowdSec is a great product with an exceptional idea, just send an application. There are many ways in which you can help and there sure is one that fits you!