Bandwidth Theft – Hotlinking

Bandwidth Theft – Hotlinking

Sometimes you face the problem of bandwidth leakage, even you don’t see much traffic for your site your control panel shows heavy bandwidth usage. So you must check what is going wrong with your bandwidth.
There can be many reasons for this but first of all you should check for your images/video and take care for not being compromised or hotlinked. Some black hat webmaster tries to save their bandwidth by hotlinking files at other sites.

What is Hotlink :

When you link to an image/video on someone else’s server instead of saving that image to your computer and uploading it to your blog/site. When you do this you are stealing bandwidth of the other linking site.
When your visitor loads the page with those images, they are actually loading image/video from the other site eating up the bandwidth of that site.

Some webmaster do such unethical practices as to save their bandwidth, as they have limited amount of bandwidth allowed each month and if it get exceeded then their host may suspend their account so they play such tricks. As a webmaster we should be aware of such illegal practices and should protect us.

How to Detect The Bandwidth Thieves :

Most effective way to check who are the culprits is through checking your dedicated server logs for referrals to the images on your website. Trace the referrers in the logs to the actual referring website and check the offending web page. If you find your graphics displayed on their page, check the HTML source for that page and find out where the graphic files are hosted. If the IMG tag points to your website, it means they are using your bandwidth for their website.

How to Protect Yourself :

Using .htaccess, you can disallow hot linking on your server, so those attempting to link to your images are either blocked (failed request, such as a broken image) or served with different content may be with some funny image.
Note that mod_rewrite needs to be enabled on your server in order for this aspect of .htaccess to work. If you are using WordPress, there is a hotlink protection plugin that you can install which fights bandwidth theft.


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