Monday, September 1, 2008

Robots.txt harmless? Or dangerous?

Robots.txt harmless? Or dangerous?
By K1u

So alright... what is this strange file in the root of your directories you question?

Let me break down what it basically is... all it basically is, is a rule set for search engines.

Example of a robot.txt file.

# This is my robots.txt file!
User-agent: *
Disallow: /idontwantthisindexedbysearchengines/

Now let me explain what it is line by line.

# This is a User agent... example Firefox or Konqueror, * is anything.
User-agent: *

# This is a rule for search engines not to index this folder.
Disallow: /idontwantthisindexedbysearchengines/

Now lets talk about why robots.txt can be dangerous.

All websites out there that are using the Robots file most likely have it exposed.

Here take this -

Well your probably asking what do I do now? Instead of using root folders of your "private" things, make a new folder named something like 021873257923 then store the other folder in there. Note... never ever store very important things on your Webserver, even if its protected by robots.txt.

Now lets build our own robots.txt file.

# This is a comment... these are ignored.
User-agent: *
Disallow: /273432087423374242/

User-agent: Googlebot-Image
Disallow: /images

# Alexa's bot is a bit aggressive so I think I shall make it wait 1 minute (60 seconds) until it can view another page.
User-agent: IA_Archiver
Crawl-Delay: 60


Ok... see I have over 300 folders staring with admin... none should be indexed... what do I do? Is there some sort of wildcard I can use?

Simply Disallow: /admin without the ending /.

Are there engines that do not obey robots.txt?


My host disallows Robots.txt...

They probably don't... you just have not tryed selecting view hidden files in your FTP client. Look into others methods... google is your friend.

On a side note. I have not written this in the official tutorial, but alot of people asked me why make a directory 349823423423 for instance and the answer is because it is harder for script kiddies to do a directory name brute force on your site and find out your private directories name.

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