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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

URL Masking With Page Retrieval Software

This is software that retrieves a web page and then displays it in the browser.

PHP or SSI (in conjunction with a CGI program) can be used. Other programming languages can be used, also, like ASP.

With PHP, the program code is generally right in the web page source code. With SSI, the SSI tag calls an external program to fetch the web page.

The code on the PHP/SSI web page retrieves the remote web page, inserts a base URL tag into the retrieved web page source code, then displays the contents of the retrieved web page. The URL in the browser's address bar does not change.

You end up with the contents of a web page in the browser window that is located at a URL different than the URL in the browser's address bar. The web page originally loaded into the browser and the web page retrieved from elsewhere may be on different domains.

There are no visual clues that the web page being displayed is not at the URL in the browser's address bar unless the web page being displayed itself contains clues.

Here is how to do it using PHP.

Create a PHP web page that loads the target web page and displays it.

Make a web page with the following code. Change the URL in the second line of the code to the URL of the web page to be displayed in the browser.

Put only the above into the web page. Use no HTML or BODY or other normal web page tags except as coded above.

Upload the PHP web page to your server. Load the PHP web page into your browser.

You'll notice that the URL of the PHP web page is in your browser's address bar even while a different web page, the one you specified in the second line of the above code, is displayed in the browser window.

That's the simplicity of URL masking with page retrieval software.

Preventing URL Masking With Page Retrieval Software

Put this JavaScript code somewhere in the web page to be protected will break the web page out of frames and put its own URL into the browser's address bar.

On the second line of the above code, type the domain name of the web page to be protected. Just the domain name, not including http:// or www.

On the third line of the above code, type the URL of the web page where the browser is to be redirected to if it is displayed with URL masking by page retrieval software. This redirect URL might be the URL of the web page that is being masked or it might be the URL of some other web page, one with a "don't steal content" message, for example.

URL Masking

There can be good reasons to use URL masking. And it can be misused.

Here, you learned how to do it and also how to protect your web pages from unauthorized masking.

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