A Free Educational Resource Created by Carnegie Mellon University to Empower You to Secure Your Part of Cyberspace

Blogging, Homepages, and Social Networking Sites

Publishing content on the Web so others can see it

Putting content on the Web so others can see it is called Web publishing. Content published on the Web can take on many different forms. In the simplest case, Web pages are fixed documents that do not interact with a user. More complicated websites can create new content as you read or allow you to interact with the site. Whenever you type the address of a Web page into your browser, the browser formats the content and displays it on the screen.

You publish content by placing it on a Web server, which is a computer connected to the Internet that runs Web server software. Visitors to your site connect to the server to see the content you have published. Any computer connected to the Internet can run this software, so you could run a server on your own machine. However, most people buy space from a Web-hosting company so they can use the company's resources (disk space, network connection) to publish their content. There are different security risks involved with each of these approaches.

Some of the various tools available for Web publishing are:

  • Blogging sites: A blog (short for “weblog”) is a website on which journal entries are posted on a regular basis. Blogs contain information about the things the author does, his/her interests, personal news, digital pictures of friends, etc. Blogs typically have at least text, hypertext, and images, but they can also contain video, audio, and other file types. Blogging has become very popular due to its simplicity and the appeal of being able to share Web pages with friends and family. They are very easy to publish, and many companies, such as Google  and Yahoo , allow you to create a blog for free.

  • Social Networking Sites: Social networking sites, such as Facebook , Google+  and MySpace , allow you to post a personal profile and link it to profiles belonging to your friends or people with similar interests. Many of these sites also allow you to maintain a blog and publish photos. People use social networking sites to meet new people, stay in touch with friends, and even make business connections. People also use them to create communities based on shared interests, where many people can contribute information and opinions. As in blogging, a company provides a web service that allows you to store and display your personal data and photos.

  • Web hosting: In a much more complete way than the sites mentioned above, Web hosting provides users with online systems for storing information, images, video, or any other content accessible via the Web. This content can include Flash or Java applets, which allow animation, sophisticated graphics, and significant interaction with the website.

To publish a website from your own computer, you will need to:

  • Get a computer where you store your pages.
  • Select a reliable Internet Service Provider.
  • Decide on the type of website you want.
  • Decide on and pay for a domain name.
  • Find a Web server provider or provide your own Web server.
  • Design the files for your website and organize them.

You can get detailed information on how to run a website from home at the following pages:

Running a Web server from home is not common. If you decide to do it, it is extremely important to keep all of your software, especially your operating system and Web server, updated with the latest patches. If you fail to update your software, somebody could hack into your site, deface it, or destroy any information on the computer you store your files on. You run a server at home entirely at your own risk.

Blogging, Homepages, and Social Networking Sites: security threats & prevention tips

  • Denial of Service An attack whereby excessive traffic is sent deliberately to a connection
  • Intrusion Getting into someone's computer without their permission
  • Malware Programs that are designed to harm your computer
  • Site Hijacking Misrepresenting a website by stealing and manipulating its content

Blogging, Homepages, and Social Networking Sites: common problems and solutions

Someone distorted an image of my child from my personal website.

The content you publish is protected , and you may be able to take legal action. Organizations such as the Electronic Privacy Information Centre  may assist you in finding the culprit.

To avoid this type of problem, take the following preventive measures:

  • Avoid publishing information that could be used to identify and locate individuals in pictures, particularly when children are pictured.
  • Never publish contact information along with pictures of individuals.
  • Protect images on your website with a password to prevent them from being downloaded or altered.
  • Only use photo services or blog sites that allow you to control who can view your pictures. Sites like Facebook  and Flickr  give users this option.

Sometimes my webpage takes too long to load or fails to open.

Your server may be facing a denial of service attack where malicious hosts collude to disrupt your service. There is very little you can do to stop the attack when it is in action. However there are certain preventive measures you should practice:

  • Make sure you have a firewall installed to protect your server and have strict filtering rules for the incoming traffic.
  • You can have a mechanism where only a single download is allowed for a certain IP at a point of time and if some IPS are misbehaving then they can be blacklisted for further downloads.
  • Your server can be configured not to return some server requests (ICMP requests) that can overload the server.

Some methods  can be used to detect the culprit of a denial of service attack after it is over.

Connect Safely from Different Places

Office

Your employer may provide server space for you to publish your own website. These sites are usually related to your work function and are not meant for personal use. If you publish a personal site on a remote server and you would like to update your site from your office, make sure that your company policy allows this.

Mobile

You can use your mobile device to update your Web page if you have a blog, or a website on which journal entries are posted on a regular basis. Blogs contain information about the things the author does, his/her interests, personal news, digital pictures, etc. You can even include pictures from your mobile phone's camera in your blog.

You should only update your blog from your own mobile device, not other people's devices. The reason for this is that in some cases mobile devices save the pages that have been visited and passwords. The owner of the mobile device or another user could then have access to your blog's password. For a similar reason, you should always make sure you close the connection to your blog and to the Internet after updating your blog from your mobile device. If you don't, somebody who got a hold of your mobile device could vandalize your website or data.

On the road

You could run a server on your own machine while away from home. However, servers are typically computers that stay in one place, rather than being mobile.

You should be extremely careful when updating your website while away from home. You must always log on to update your site, and entering your password on a shared computer is risky. There is also the danger that you could forget to close a logon session. Your logon information could then be stolen or changed, or the next user of a shared computer could vandalize your website.

Legal Issues

Copyright: Copyright laws keep people from republishing content owned by others, so make sure that you have the proper rights to publish content you have not written. This includes pictures, music, and videos.

Content availability: Be careful about the content you publish on the Web. It will be available to all and will likely be present in search engines and archives such as Internet Archive and Google. If this information is libelous or indecent, legal action could be taken against you.

Privacy Issues

If you publish too much personal information (such as your home address, telephone number, email address) on your Web page, you could expose yourself to identity theft, unsolicited emails, and other serious privacy threats, such as cyberstalking. Children need to be especially careful about this.

Also, if you are publishing information about others on your site, make sure that you have their permission. It is a violation of privacy to publish information about others without their permission. You should also not use your Web page to harass, intimidate, embarrass or demean others. This behavior is called cyberbullying.

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