Since I work in a K-12 School environment, I feel it is important to dedicate an area to information for the K-12 Technology Support Professional. This group of individuals faces many unique difficulties have most of the problems every network or systems engineer to helpdesk/desktop support department.
Many times, I will find inspiration for these topics from my own activities or from my local peers I meet at professional meetings. Also, I participate on several education based listservs and will pull ideas from there or will float my idea out for comment before refining for final publishing.
If you have an idea, drop me an e-mail at peter (at) netmon. org.
Protecting Your Images on Your Web Server
Schools need to be more aware of image theft and image "hotlinking" as more and more websites are catering to candid teen (non-nude) images. There are some things you can do to protect your district and the images of your students. (There are other types of theft as well but this is by far the most disturbing and potentially most embarrassing or damaging.)
1.) Carefully review the content of the pictures you place on the Internet. While it may seem harmless, those images can be stolen and may circulate for many years to come.
2.) While you may have a copyright notice on your website, place a copyright notice on each image along with your schools name and website address. It takes time but can help.
3.) Rename your pictures to odd names. Instead of "cheerleader.jpg," use "zSd4r4f5A6.jpg." This will help eliminate keyword searching for images using tools like the image search engine at Google - http://www.google.com/imghp
4.) Better yet, place your "at risk" images in galleries and do not allow search engine's to spider them preventing any search results. Google has a page how to keep pages/images from being "spidered" or to have already "spidered" pages/pages removed. http://www.google.com/remove.html
You can also find out the many tricks and tips on managing the way search engines review your website at http://www.robotstxt.org/ (This information applies to all search engines and not just Google.)
5.) Prevent "hotlinking" of your images. It is bad enough to have someone use your images. It is even worse to find out he is using them from your server (and stealing your bandwidth). There are tools for most platforms which prohibit stealing images via "hotlinking."
If you run a Microsoft IIS Server, there is a free "LeechBlocker" available. It takes less than 5 minutes to download and install and it is free. http://www.singularity.org/Products/LeechBlocker/leechblocker.html
For Apache web servers, you will need to configure your htaccess file. More information is available by searching Google or clicking here - http://apache-server.com/tutorials/ATusing-htaccess.html
There also are some nice tutorials and scripts available here - WARNING: This next site, while very informative, is intended for someone hosting "adult oriented websites" and may be offensive to some or in violation of your schools acceptable use policy - http://www.007adulthosting.com/bandwidth.htm
Once you get your "hotlinking" access stopped, you can check it here for free - http://www.hotlinking.com (Please note that images in your browsers cache will display even if "hotlinking" is disabled. (Clear Your Cache!)) This site it intended for Apache htaccess but also works fine with the IIS LeechBlocker too.
6.) Regularly review your web server logs for any unusual activity including any past activity. Any current or past "hotlinking" will be very apparent. You can also see if someone came in and "downloaded" all of the images from your website. (There are many free tools to download entire websites for offline viewing. The can usually be configured to harvest only images.) There are several log file analyzers available for web servers. Here is a small list - http://www.netmon.org/tools.htm#Analyzers
These small steps will go a long way in
stopping theft and preventing "hotlinking."
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peter (at) netmon. org
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