Josh Work Professional Organizations Trip Reports Conference Report:
Succumbing to the Dark Side of the Force:
The Internet As Seen from an Adult Website

By Dan Klein,

My first session was Dan Klein's "Succumbing to the Dark Side of the Force: The Internet As Seen from an Adult Web Site." As I was his transparency turner up front, I didn't get to take notes, but it was effectively the same talk he'd given at USENIX in New Orleans, without any defensiveness on why he is the technical person for a dozen Internet pornography web sites. He went over some of the technical issues for maintaining such a site, and noted that porn sites tend to have better security and adult- verification than some banks. The talk was (as at USENIX) very well attended. (And no, he didn't show pictures; the talk was PG-13.)

On the technical side, Dan talked about various techniques to reduce the load on a web server. They include: load sharing, load shedding and load boosting. Load sharing is basically using DNS entries in a round-robin fashion to distribute the load. The main issue with something like this is making sure that all of the servers have the same data.

Load shedding is where there is a front end server. This server hands off initial requests to back-end servers that have the real content. The problem here, just in the above, it keeping everything in sync.

Load boosting is done on the client side. He had discussed earlier how a lot of sites make their money based on the number of hits a given URL receives. Thus sites will have banners and javascript programs that pop up other windows that access the same URL. Load boosting is where you turn off javascript on the client to prevent these other windows from appearing, thus reducing the amount of time it takes to load in a page.

One item that is good practice that he mentioned is keeping logs. Logs help in a number of different places. They help plan for the future. They help determine possible security breaches. And, in the case of legal action, they can help cover you if someone falsely accuses you of something.

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Last update Apr24/02 by Josh Simon (<>).