How to Secure Your Company's Website Data

On the Internet, it’s really easy to have your content stolen. With a simple click or two, thieves can have all of your valuable content at their disposal. For that reason, it’s incredibly important to secure the data on your company’s website.

The challenge, though, is to implement a way that makes it difficult for people to copy your content, while also providing a great experience for your readers. For that reason, we’ve written this article to give a few examples of ways to secure the data on your company’s website while not hindering the user experience.

no hotlinkingStop the hotlinking

Hotlinking refers to linking directly to a website’s files, such as an image. When that file is posted and viewed elsewhere, it steals your bandwidth. Bandwidth refers to the amount of data transferred from the host’s computer to the user’s computer. It uses the site’s bandwidth to display a file. Web hosts charge based on the amount of data transferred, so you can see where this issue comes in. If the site goes over its allotted bandwidth, it will either be billed for the extra data used, or taken offline altogether.

To prevent this, find a .htaccess script that blocks people from hotlinking to your site’s files. You can set it to display a replacement image that mentions you don’t allow hotlinking, if you choose. You can also specify in the .htaccess file that you only want to block certain domains from hotlinking, but allow other sites.

Monitor employees on your network

Your concerns aren’t just limited to external factors. If you aren’t looking inward at your own employees and what they’re doing on your network, then you’re putting your website’s content and data at risk just as much. This is particularly true if you’re allowing them to use their personal devices on your company’s network. Consider a suite of enterprise service solutions like the ones offered by BlackBerry to limit the security risks posed by allowing your employees to bring their own devices to work.

Display a copyright noticedisplay copyright

While it may seem futile, sometimes displaying a simple warning is all it takes. The best part about it is that the warning looks menacing across all devices, whether it’s a smartphone, a tablet, or a desktop PC. A simple copyright notice protects you if you have the need to contest the theft, and will show that you own the material. Copyright law says that you don’t need to actually file a copyright, just post a notice. The actual filing of a copyright can be retroactive.

Embed your content in Flash

With Flash content, you have to be careful — it simply doesn’t play nice with mobile devices. You can default mobile sites to a plain text view of the site as an alternative. Embedding your content in flash is a fantastic way to thwart would-be thieves. It’s very, very difficult to steal content from a a flash file and requires that you decompile the entire file just to get a piece of it. This will deter people just because it would take forever just to grab your content from the file.

watermarking photosWatermark your images

If you have any images that your company is using, place either your text or company logo over the image. If someone tries to steal it, it’ll have the name and logo on it. There are many free and paid programs that will watermark an image for you. Without extensive Photoshop knowledge, it may be difficult to remove the watermark, if it’s even possible at all.

Disable right clicking

This suggestion could mess with other functionality on your website, but if there are some images that you don’t want people stealing, it’s necessary. You can add some Javascript code to disable right clicking. Any person with any sort of website knowledge knows that they can click “view source” and copy the image link from the page’s code, so it’s not fool-proof, but not everyone understands how to do that. There are some Javascript codes that will disable both right clicking and keyboard functionality, so if you really don’t care about how your site visitors feel, implement that.

spam botsReduce auto-copying spam bots

Spambots are extremely annoying, but there are a few ways to thwart them. Remember the .htaccess file from earlier? Place it in every directory that you want to protect. Use a meta tag to prevent robots from indexing your page. Password protect the directory that contains the data you want to protect. Most importantly, use HTML encryption. The downside to HTML encryption, though, is that even though spam bots won’t see it, neither will search engines.

If you’ve got a problem with someone stealing your content, even though it may impact the number of people that visit your site, you should try one of these methods. It’s important to remember that no method is completely fool-proof and that these are just deterrents. Make sure to test each method after implementing it, then note and fix any errors that you come across. Have you discovered another way to deter people from stealing your content?  Let us know in the comment section.

Calvin Sellers is a mobile tech and social media writer from Tampa, FL.  Follow him on Twitter @CalvinTheScribe.

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