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Image Security: How to Secure, Protect, and Safeguard Website Images

Written by MicroStartups

Safeguarding your images is a big deal. They’re your property and if someone uses them without your permission, it could threaten the reputation of your website. While your images get copyright protection once you create them, you need to take extra steps to safeguard them.

Below I’ve explained how you can go the extra image security mile through watermarking, disabling hotlinking, and more. Read on if you value the reputation of your website imagery.

Add a watermark to your images

If you want your website images to be safe, secure, and protected you have to copyright them. This brings a legal consequence to anyone who uses them without your permission. But in order for your copyright to be respected you should go the extra mile. Adding a watermark to them does this.

How you copyright your images depends on the region you’re in. In the EU, UK, US, and, Canada your images are subject to copyright law as soon as they’re created. A watermark is a faint identifying image which displays a pattern, text, or logo.

It’s easy to add a watermark to your website images and there are many tools which let you do it in batches. My personal recommendation is, iWatermark Pro. It works for both Windows and Apple and is really easy to use. It also works with the Android and iOS operating systems.

For more guidance on how to watermark the images on your website, check out the great video below:

Make it hard to copy your pictures

Adding a watermark to your images isn’t enough to protect them from being used without your permission. While it will stop some people from stealing your pictures, there are lots of tools which help remove a watermark. To safeguard your images you need to make them hard to copy.

There are three great ways to make more difficult to copy your pictures:

  • Start shrink wrapping: You put your pictures behind a transparent image. This means when someone tries to copy your image it will save the transparent picture in the foreground
  • Use tiling: You separate your image into smaller, square tiles. Your picture will appear normal on your website, but any attempt to save it will record one of the tiles. The downside to this is that it gives your website more images to manage, meaning your load time will slow down
  • Turn off right-clicks: When anyone tries to save your image they’ll be hit with a copyright notice, instead of getting the option to save your picture

Disable hotlinking on your site

Hotlinking is where someone adds an image to their site by linking to the website which hosts the picture. This creates the added problem of increasing your bandwidth usage and putting stress on your server. You can stop people from doing this by disabling hotlinking on your site.

To manually disable hotlinking you have to get at your htaccess file. This article explains how you can do this in only a few short steps. There are also some great plugins that will disable hotlinking for you. Hotlink Protection is a WordPress plugin that stops external web servers from being able to link to your images. It’s a great way to disable hotlinking. There are other tools available which will also display a warning message instead of your image.

While hotlinking is a great way of safeguarding the images on your website, it’s not foolproof. This is because it only works for embedded images, meaning people are still able to copy your pictures. My advice is to make hotlinking one of the methods to securing your images, but not your sole approach.

For more guidance on how to disable hotlinking on your site, watch the brilliant video underneath:

Use royalty free images on your website

If you’re concerned about your images being used there’s a really simple solution. Stop using your own pictures and select royalty free images created by someone else. It’s a quick and easy way to stay secure, one that means you don’t have to take any additional steps yourself.

There are lots of great websites with images you’re free to use. I recommend steering clear of the major ones and pick a smaller one instead. Why? Because the bigger the site the more likely it’s been used by someone else already. Burst is one example of a new image site with great copyright images. Another great option is to search through government resources like library databases etc listed here.

This is an approach favoured by bloggers because their websites are text heavy and often need less original images. However, if you are an ecommerce brand you will still need to use your own pictures. If this is true of your website I recommend using copyright images, while keeping your images secure by taking the other steps I’ve mentioned.

Keeping your images secure is essential for your website. If people use your pictures elsewhere it can damage your brand and cause people to lose faith in your business. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re safe because your images have copyright protection once you’ve created them. Put the steps I’ve recommended in place and you’ll help to safeguard your images from being stolen.

About the author


A team of writers and marketers, MicroStartups was founded to inspire the entrepreneurial and business community to give back. We believe in business growth through giving and supporting the local community.

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