I didn’t anticipate learning about website security through my internship, but I’m glad to say I have. Most of my efforts so far have been focused on content. I’ve met with individuals on a few occasions, like the interviews I conducted for the FEIA and “Sticking it to the Man” articles. In other instances, I have gathered information through e-mail conversations or typical online research. My focus has been more on the department website’s material than the ‘web’ side of things.
I had a learning opportunity a few weeks back when a notification arrived in my e-mail inbox. It was a comment on my most recently posted article, and WordPress was requesting my approval for the comment to be posted. That seemed harmless enough to me, but as with anything new, I figured I should ask Dr. Wolek first before taking an action. I waited until our next meeting to bring it up.
As I should have expected, it wasn’t so simple as clicking approve. Dr. Wolek explained to me how comments can be used to gain greater access to a website, and therefore threaten the website’s security. Sure enough, the one that had appeared in my inbox seemed to match the description he’d given me of security-threatening comments. With a far stronger background in the writing aspect of my work than the web aspect, this was all news to me. As the internship expands, I hope to expand my understanding of how websites function.