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Hotlinking And You

Started by Mooby the Golden Sock, June 13, 2012, 02:11:57 AM

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Mooby the Golden Sock

Recently some members were getting a warning that this site had been infected with malware.  After doing some searching, it turned out the culprit was a hotlinked image from a suspicious site.





What Is Hotlinking?

Hotlinking is the unauthorized linking of a media file (image, audio, or video) from another website without their permission.  If the site doesn't state it allows linking, it probably doesn't.


Why Is It Bad?

- It costs other people money.  For those of you with monthly data caps, imagine if something I posted on a website you don't visit counted towards your cap.  Pretty crappy, right?  Yet that's what you do to other web hosts when you hotlink their content.

- The other site controls the image.  If the other site decides to swap out the image for something silly or inappropriate (often done to get back at hotlinkers), your post could potentially contain content that makes you look bad or breaks the site's rules.

- It can pose a security risk.  Content from flagged sites gets our site flagged in search engines, which means we get warnings pasted and can become hidden in search engines.  This is what happened to us today: a member hotlinked an image from a reported attack site, and it got us flagged as a suspicious site as well.


What Can You Do?

Fortunately, there are a number of hosting sites that allow you to link media content, with or without an account.  Examples include:

- YouTube (videos)
- ImageShack (pictures)
- Photobucket (pictures)
- TinyPic (pictures)
- Many Internet Service Providers (usually any media content)
- Etc.

At least one (ImageShack) has a FireFox plugin that lets you right-click images and upload them to your account, immediately giving you a non-hotlinked image.  For others, you simply have to visit the site and paste the url, and they'll give you the link code.  The result is you get a legit, hosted, reliable image or video that doesn't rip anyone off and doesn't put our site at risk.
History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of man.--BÖC

Mooby the Golden Sock

History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of man.--BÖC

Lillium

Meow?

TrisTennant

But everything changed when the Calgary Flames attacked.

Mooby the Golden Sock

I just replaced several hotlinked images that were causing malware warnings with this:



When members hotlink from unscrupulous sites and Google picks it up, every member who visits our site from Google or uses Chrome gets a malware warning, AND we will not get shown in search engines.  Hotlinking deters members from visiting our site.
History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of man.--BÖC