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5 Simple Steps to Protect your Digital Downloads
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5 Simple Steps to Protect your Digital Downloads
Copyright © 2003 Priya Shah
A couple of days ago, I was searching for a popular eBook online.
Now I'm not going to tell you the name of this eBook for reasons you'll
understand in the next few minutes.
Okay, so here I was, opening Google, entering the name of the eBook -
clicking search, and checking through the first few pages of search
-> Forward to Page 5 of Google
I saw a link that looked like a PDF document.
Right click -> open in new window
There, in full glory, was the eBook I was searching for!
The complete eBook, mind you, not a trial or demo - sitting there for
the world to download.
And this is a product that sells for over $25 online!!
Obviously I'm not going to tell you the name of the eBook because it
would not be fair to the reseller.
But it just made me realise that one of the reasons digital theft is so
prevalent is simply because... its so EASY!
Don't get me wrong. I don't condone theft of any kind - digital or
But would YOU shell out $25 for a product that everyone can 'legally'
download off the 5th page of Google?
Most people would just shrug their shoulders, hit the save button and
thank their lucky stars.
Result: The opposite of $ KA-CHING $ for the sellers
One of the problems with selling digital products online is that it is
so SIMPLE to do. So now everyone and their grandmother wants to do it.
But most newbies have no idea of how to protect their valuable
downloads, even though it requires only a few simple steps to ensure a
moderate degree of security.
So here I've outlined the five most BASIC security steps that anyone
selling digital products online must take.
These will take you only a few minutes to do, and you do not need any
special software or programming knowledge.
ZIP THAT FILE
The biggest problem arises when sellers store their downloads as PDF
documents, as in my experience above.
Now you should know that Google, Altavista and many other search
engines can read and list PDF files.
While this may not be a problem for those adding content to their sites
in the form of PDF newsletters and reports, it also means that you must
never store a product you want to SELL as a PDF file (unless it is in a
It gets worse. Google also converts your PDF files into HTML documents.
So ordinary browsers not only have access to your PDF file, but -
horror of horrors - they can download your SOURCE FILE as well!!
The next logical step is for them to customize it with their own links,
compile it and sell it or give it away.
Result: The opposite of $ KA-CHING $ for the sellers...AND the author.
A simple way of keeping your files out of the reach of spiders is to upload them as a zip file.
Search engines cannot look inside zip files (yet) and list their
CREATE AN INDEX.HTML FILE
You MUST have an index.html file in EVERY
folder. It acts like a curtain that keeps your files away from prying
A folder without an index file is like a house without walls. Everyone
can enter and help themselves to the valuables.
The 'index.htm' file is the default file that opens when you click on
the link here -
If you don't create an index.htm or index.html file, you'd be allowing
everyone to directly access the root directory of the folder where you
store your downloads.
Here is a folder I uploaded to show you what happens when you DON'T
have an index file.
As you can see, all the files stored in it are clearly visible and
ready to download.
And yes, feel free to help yourself - I won't accuse you of stealing :-)
SHOW PEEPING TOMS THE EXIT
You can use a simple script to redirect peeping Toms back to your home
Here's the easiest way to do it using what it called a "meta refresh
tag." Add it between the
Header tags like this.
Just replace my URL with your own in the example above and paste it
into the head of your document (before your text).
You can see how it works by clicking on the test folder here.
Now even though you click on the folder URL, you will be sent to my
SPIDER-PROOF YOUR DOWNLOAD PAGES
To prevent search engine spiders from reading and listing the download
pages that link to your eBooks add the tag below in the head of the
This "Robot" tag tells the spider that this page is not to be spidered or indexed.
As a result it should never show up on a search.
<META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW">
CHANGE YOUR DOWNLOAD LINKS OFTEN
To prevent unscrupulous people from posting your download links on
forums or message boards, change the folder or file name where you
store them from time to time, even if it means having to change the
download links in your merchant account.
Using these methods will give you a good degree of satisfaction,
knowing that you have taken the most basic steps to protect your
digital valuables - and at absolutely no cost to you.
If you want greater security and more information on plugging the
security loopholes in your website, check out the digital download protection resources
About the Author:
Priya Shah is the CEO of eBrand360. Her areas of
specialization include internet
engine optimization and business
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Best wishes for your online success!
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