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Protecting your RSS feeds


From:

WordPress 3: Developing Secure Sites

with Jeff Starr

Video: Protecting your RSS feeds

There are many ways to prevent content scrapers from stealing your feed content, but the Copyright Feed plug-in is one of the best. It protects your feed content by adding copyright information, a unique digital fingerprint, and more. In this screencast, we'll set it up and see it in action. Before installing the Copyright Feed plug-in, let's go to the Add New Plugins page and check it out. We click on Add New in the Plugins menu and then type in the 'copyright feed' in the search field. Click Search to view the results, and here we see (c)Feed listed as the second result.
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Watch the Online Video Course WordPress 3: Developing Secure Sites
2h 36m Intermediate Jun 27, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

This course explains how to secure self-hosted WordPress sites, including site configuration, code modification, and the use of free plug-ins. Beginning with the basics of site security, author Jeff Starr explains how to harden a WordPress site by configuring authentication keys, setting proper file permissions, and removing version numbers. The course shows how to implement a firewall, prevent automated spam, and control proxy access, and concludes with a series of advanced tips and site security best practices.

Topics include:
  • Backing up and restoring your site
  • Setting up strong passwords
  • Choosing trusted plugins and themes
  • Protecting the configuration file and the admin directory
  • Securing the login page
  • Fighting comment spam
  • Blocking access and detecting hacks
  • Finding and reporting vulnerabilities
Subjects:
Developer Web
Software:
WordPress
Author:
Jeff Starr

Protecting your RSS feeds

There are many ways to prevent content scrapers from stealing your feed content, but the Copyright Feed plug-in is one of the best. It protects your feed content by adding copyright information, a unique digital fingerprint, and more. In this screencast, we'll set it up and see it in action. Before installing the Copyright Feed plug-in, let's go to the Add New Plugins page and check it out. We click on Add New in the Plugins menu and then type in the 'copyright feed' in the search field. Click Search to view the results, and here we see (c)Feed listed as the second result.

Click on Details to learn more. It says it has not been tested with the current version of WordPress, but the current version of Word press is 3.1.3, which is very close to what we have here. I run this plug-in on one of my own sites and can assure you it works just fine. The plug-in has been downloaded almost 30,000 times, and the author is reputable and well known. It also has an excellent rating based on a fair number of votes. So let's click on the Installation tab to see what installation looks like.

As we can see, this is typical, and since we already have the latest version installed, let's go ahead and close out of the Information panel and click the Copyright Feed link in the Settings menu to configure the plug-in. Here we are at the Copyright Feed Settings page. Here, we have the main menu, which gives a good overview of what the plug-in can do, but let's jump right in with the setting up of the main options. This is the copyright notice that will be displayed in your feeds.

Feel free to customize this to suit your needs. Next, grab a copy of the randomly generated authentication key and paste it into this field here. This will be your unique digital fingerprint. If you'd rather use your own authentication key then you may do so by simply entering it here. And the second part of the copyright notice, this part will appear after the digital fingerprint. Scrolling down a little bit further, we check this box to show alerts on the dashboard.

Here, we check to auto-scan for stolen content, than set a reasonable amount of time for each of the auto-scans and here, check this box to exclude your site from the scan results. For Feedreader IP, we check this box to include our IP with the results. For Short Feed, let's just leave that at the default settings. These next three sections here are for blocking the sites that are stealing our feed, and there's also a place to leave a custom message for people who try to access your site after they've been blocked.

Scrolling through the other options, we see that we can include comments and related posts in our feeds. These are two great features that unfortunately are beyond the scope of this tutorial. Getting near the end here, this preview shows you what the plug-in will actually add to your feed. It will change once we update our settings. And here and here, the plug-in provides some quick search links for finding stolen content, and finally, the button to Update Options, which we now click to save our changes.

With everything configured, we return to the public side of the demo site and scroll down a bit to click on the Entries RSS link, where we can check that everything is working by viewing the source code of this page. Right-clicking on the page in Firefox, we select View Page Source and scroll down to the end of the first post. Here is the copyright information, as specified in the Plugin Settings page. This information will now be included with every post in your feed.

Here is the next post, and here is the copyright message, and so on. This information will now be included with every post in your feed, enabling you to periodically search the web to find any stolen content. Let's see a quick example of this process. We return to the Plugin Settings page and copy our unique digital fingerprint. Then we go to our favorite search engine and paste that into place.

After clicking the Search button, we see that Google has found a result. Clicking on the result, we see that this site has stolen the Hello world! post from our demo site's RSS feed. We can now use this site's IP address to stop this site from stealing future content. To do so, first obtain the IP address of the site that's stealing our content. There are several ways to get the IP information, but the easiest is to use one of these handy add-ons for Firefox.

Here is the Show IP add-on that we have installed in this browser. To obtain the IP address of the site that's stealing our feed content, right-click in the lower-right corner of the browser and select Copy to Clipboard. Next, return to the Copyright Feed Settings page in the Admin and scroll down to the BlackList field. There, paste the IP information into place and then scroll down to click Update Options to save our changes.

This IP is now blocked from even accessing our site, so it's an excellent way to stop them from stealing future content from our feeds. Once your content has been posted on another site, you'll need to file a DMCA notice to have it removed from the search engines, but you can stop the same site from stealing future posted content using this method. By no means does this strategy win the war on content theft, but it does give you the upper hand when responding to known scrapers and content thieves.

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