As the Internet grew and problems like spam, DoS attacks and remote linking arose, webmasters were forced to create disparate scripts to manage increased traffic and the hostility of the online environment. Luckily for the adult webmasters of today, the management of websites is highly automated and an industry leader has emerged: cPanel.
Like many great software solutions such as Linux and HTML, cPanel was originally written in 1999 by one person, Nick Koston. Ironically, Koston wrote it simply as a tool for customers of his hosting company, VDI. It was not intended to become the industry standard, but others began to contribute to the software and cPanel Inc. was born. Online, the company calls cPanel.net home.
cPanel is a software interface that performs all of the basic tasks that a webmaster needs to build and maintain websites. As Microsoft is to operating systems and Oracle is to databases, cPanel has emerged as the standard for web-management tools. If you are paying for hosting, chances are your hosting provider has installed cPanel at no charge. This standard interface allows the adult content provider to hire a webmaster that is already familiar with the software interface to their company URLs. In most cases, this interface will be cPanel.
The great thing about cPanel is that it is a panel — it's graphical and easy to use. Major tasks are divided into logical groups. This also makes cPanel easy to learn; all one has to do is go through the major groupings of the interface to see what it offers.
One of the great things about cPanel is that it is similar to a classic Unix job-scheduler. This means that third-party software interfaces can be easily added to the cPanel interface and run with the click of a mouse. One of the big additions to cPanel is SpamAssassin. This software uses a variety of different algorithms to block or redirect mail directed at your site that has a certain probability of being spam.
Using cPanel, even a novice webmaster can block spam before it ever gets to your company mailbox. Most spam tools that you install on your PC simply block spam after it has reached your server and wasted space and bandwidth. With cPanel, all a user has to do is click on an icon to enable SpamAssassin and then set a 1-10 level of how aggressively potential spam should be blocked.
This level of protection is adequate for most users, yet with cPanel, the adult webmaster can also chose advanced configuration options for spam, including blacklists of domains that send spam and whitelists of domains you don't ever want blocked.
cPanel allows even novices to protect their content with a variety of easy graphical tools. The most effective security feature offered is password-protected directories. A password-protected directory will prompt a browser to supply a user ID and valid password before revealing the content of the directories. For the adult webmaster, the user ID could simply be each paying customer that has access to a particular path, e.g., /home/girls/jade.
Many of the payment processing services that adult webmasters use require SSL authentication. cPanel offers the SSL Manager which allows you to set up SSL certificates, which are really encryption definitions. Encryption guarantees that credit card and personal data sent by your website for credit card processing are garbled and cannot be intercepted.
cPanel also automates the CSR (Certificate Signing Request) that many credit card processors require. A CSR allows the recipient of your encrypted data to track basic information like country of origin, domain, and email address. With cPanel this information can be configured graphically and changed when necessary.
If you are worried about someone stealing your content as you upload it through the Internet to your website, cPanel automates SSH installation. The SSH protocol is similar to SSL in that it allows employees to FTP encrypted adult content to your website using a simple tool like SFTP (Secure FTP). The adult webmaster should consider using these tools, due to the valuable nature of adult content.
Have you every suspected that some competitor, or maybe an automated bot in Siberia, was pinging your host over and over again simply to slow it down? DoS (Denial of Service) attacks have become commonplace in the online adult landscape and cPanel gives the adult webmaster an easy interface to counter this scourge — the IP Deny Manager.
Like all components of cPanel, the IP Deny Manager is simply an icon that you click on as you manage your domain. From here, the webmaster can enter IP addresses that have been slowing down your site. By entering a range of addresses, you could effectively block servers from a certain country from accessing your site.
As to determining the source of a DoS attack, cPanel also allows you to setup Raw Access Logs, this will show you the IP addresses that are using the most bandwidth afforded to your site. You can also use awstats (Advanced Web Statistics) to find out the top IP addresses that access your site.
Another common DoS attack launched against the adult webmaster occurs when other sites directly link to your content or portions of your content, like an image. cPanel offers a solution to this common problem: HotLink protection. Configuring this tool will prevent adult competitors from simply using an IMG tag in HTML to steal, not only your content, but also your bandwidth.
HotLink protection allows the webmaster to specify which types of files can or cannot be linked to remotely, such as *.jpg, *.mp3 or *.bmp. Furthermore, the webmaster can specify a list of IP addresses which are allowed to link to your images. For example, with HotLinks you can allow Google and Yahoo to link to your images and ten of your own websites, but block everyone else.
Because it is similar to a Unix job scheduler, cPanel has now integrated two types of blog software into its standard interface: B2Evolution and WordPress. With cPanel, simply by specifying basic information and creating a pre-configured MySQL Database, webmasters can set up multiple blogs across numerous domains in just a few minutes.
Many adult sites have online bulletin boards for customers. cPanel integrates with both YaBB and phpBB to allow for the quick creation and maintenance of bulletin boards. YaBB is an open-source solution and costs nothing for your hosting provider to install with cPanel. For more information on this free bulletin board, visit YabbForum.com. Documentation and downloads for phpBB can be obtained at phpBB.com. cPanel also integrates with phpChat, which can be downloaded at PHPOpenChat.org.
Although free, phpChat offers heavyweight chat features such as moderators, the ability for chatters to invite others into rooms, custom sounds, themes and even support for IRC-style commands.
For the more sophisticated site with many types of multimedia products being served to many concurrent users with different privileges, the adult webmaster should consider using one of the many CMS tools that now integrate with cPanel.
CMS software is designed to take away the chaos that we see behind the scenes of a typical website. Instead of having to manage multiple directories of video, sound, and database content, CMS software allows the webmaster to store all of their valuable entertainment material in a central database that can be accessed by multiple URLs.
Content Management Systems also ship with sophisticated user tracking and built-in tools for delivering video and sound to those users.
cPanel works with many popular CMS tools like Mambo and PostNuke. Better yet, installation is easy. These tools integrate with the MySQL database, which also ships with cPanel. If you are looking for CMS software specifically designed for the adult webmaster, sites like AdultDesign.com, Mansion Productions.com and TooMuchMedia.com offer tools that will help you store and serve video, track users, and organize your website with a graphical interface.
Whatever your role in the adult online content arena, consider exploring the cPanel interface. cPanel is not meant to be the exclusive domain of the sophisticated webmaster; it is designed for site operators of ordinary skill who need to quickly perform the tasks of organizing, protecting, and improving their web content. The most powerful feature of cPanel is also the most valuable for you — its ease of use.