How do you protect the download pages for your digital products? A surprising number of digital publishers seem to be relying on some very weak solutions.
A common approach to download page security that many beginning marketers use involves choosing names for download directories and pages that include a random string of numbers. Something like, “/download17826/”. The idea being that digital thieves trying to guess the url to the download page would not be able to do it easily. An extra measure of security that is often used is to employ ‘no-index’ tags in the robots.txt file and the individual HTML pages on the site to ensure that the search engines didn’t include the pages in their index.
The logic behind this simple solution is, “If you can’t find the page in the search engines and it is nearly impossible to guess, the download page is safe from casual thieves and all but the most determined hackers.” But, will the search engines really obey your ‘no-index’ tags?
If this is how you have your download pages protected, I have some very bad news for you. One of the major search engines is ignoring your ‘no-index’ tags and including your download pages in their search results for anyone to find.
I first became aware of this after reading the promotional copy for a recent product offer. I couldn’t believe it would be as easy as conducting a quick search to sneak directly onto a download page without paying – but, it is! A little more research revealed that this information on how to steal digital products is pretty widespread online. You don’t have to be a hardcore black-hat hacker to figure it out.
I’m not going to give details of the exact search engine and search methods that will expose these vulnerable download pages because I don’t want to encourage digital theft. But, when I learned about how easy it was to locate and access ‘protected’ download pages, I decided to test some of the hottest information products on the market and searched for their download pages. The results were astonishing.
In my tests, I was able to successfully locate and access over a dozen download pages for some very well known products. The search engine made it easy to locate the download pages and the sites offered no resistance to my visits. Ironically, one of the products whose download page I was able to access was for a software product promising to protect your download pages (either the software isn’t very good, or they don’t use it on their site.)
The lesson here is this, if you aren’t using a software solution to protect your download pages, you could be getting robbed blind by digital thieves. Hackers know how to exploit this vulnerability and they talk about it openly on their forums. Some malicious individuals even locate download pages and publish the links on forums and newsgroups to encourage theft. If your product isn’t well known yet, you might be safe. But, if you start seeing success, you will be targeted – count on it.
There are several products available to secure your download pages: DL Guard, Digital Product Guard, and Download Defender XT are three popular options that work. DL Guard is one of the best solutions available.
In my testing I uncovered several download pages that were secured with DL Guard (a unique bit of text shows up in the URL for the download page) and every one of them successfully blocked access to the download page. I personally know several marketers who use (and swear by) the DL Guard solution.
The download protection approach that I use involves employing a 3rd party system to process orders and deliver the digital goods. The service I use is E-junkie. I upload my files to the E-junkie servers and they process my orders and deliver the products automatically. The files are protected through their site and I don’t have to worry. They never offer a direct link to the files and product links can be set to expire after a specific time or number of downloads. E-junkie also manages my affiliate program and has a number of other valuable features built in. The costs are very low and the benefits are very high.
Whatever solution you choose, just make sure and implement it ASAP. Don’t leave the core of your business unprotected. Stop the digital thieves in their tracks using software like DL Guard or services like E-junkie.
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