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Security & Your Personal Wedding Website
by Tamara Baker, Celebrate Our Lives Wedding Websites
When you're planning your personal wedding website, security probably isn't the first detail that comes to mind. You're simply trying to have fun, express yourself and get information out to your friends and family. Unfortunately, the very features that make wedding websites so enjoyable and useful are the very things that can cause problems for your personal security.
Consider some of the most popular inclusions and features of wedding websites:
Names of the bride and groom; biographies of the wedding party; the date and location of the wedding and honeymoon; personal information such as addresses and phone numbers; email addresses; RSVP forms; guest books and personal photos.
There are numerous security issues that can arise from the use of these features. Yet before you decide to cancel your website plans, rest assured that there are solutions to the problem. First, it's important to remember that any personal information included on your site can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection. When you're deciding what to include, ask yourself whether or not you would want that information to be available to anyone off the street. If the answer is no, then limit the information. For instance, first names may suffice if you're uncomfortable giving out your full names. More detailed information such as street addresses and exact locations of your wedding might best be left vague. It's a sad fact that some people use wedding information to find opportune times to steal from wedding participants. With the right information they know where the presents will be and when the participants will be away. The key to remember is that strangers will undoubtedly visit your site, and some of them may have malicious intent. The solution? Don't give out any information for them to go on. If, however, you still prefer to place personal information on your site, keep reading. There is another option.
Next, there's the issue of spam. Everybody hates it; no one wants it. But if you give out your email address anywhere on the Internet you are sure to be signed up for daily ads from people selling everything from $199 dream vacations in Boise to instant miracle thigh cream. And once your address is exposed to the world, the proverbial can of spam is opened and there's no going back to the private address you once treasured. If you still want to include an email address either for general use or for RSVP and guest book entries, a better option than giving out your own personal address is to create a temporary one to be used just for your wedding needs. A free account can be found in many places, and an account with a "spam filter" such as the "bulk mail folder" included with Yahoo! accounts is a good choice. You might also want to check with your wedding website designers. They may offer an email account to go with your site, the benefits being that it's temporary and may have the added bonus of matching the domain name used for your site. One last option is to have your guests contact you via a form. With this feature, guests can send messages to your designated email address but will be unable to see the address to which they are being sent.
Finally, guest books pose an additional problem since anyone can post to them. There are two options for information gathered from guest books. It may either be sent to your email address (with the same problems as you run into above) and/or it may be posted on your actual site. Again, you've opened up your site, only this time "CrazyGuy15593" can say whatever he wants and post things on your beautiful site that you certainly wouldn't want your Aunt Ida to see.
The solution to the personal information, email, RSVP, and guest book dilemmas? A username and password. While certainly not the Fort Knox of security, common usernames and passwords can do a fairly good job of keeping out the riffraff who just want to have a little fun at your expense as well as those who have more cynical plans for your personal information. And while they most likely won't hold up to the most skilled of attacks, there probably aren't too many hackers interested in breaking the code so they can find out if you're serving chicken Kiev for your entree.
How do usernames and passwords work? When a visitor goes to your site, they will be asked to fill in the username and password of your choosing. The people you chose to give the information to are then given access to your site and all of the features you intended your friends and family to enjoy. Make the words simple and readily available and you shouldn't have any problems using the site the way you intend.
How do you get a username and password? Your wedding website designer should be able to offer you this feature. If it's not an option, your can either limit your information or find another designer who can offer you the security you need to make the site you want.
Now that you have security off your mind, get out there and make a website to remember.
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