Are your photos being hotlinked from another website?

Hotlinks are where other websites link directly to your image so that it shows up on their website.  It’s bandwidth theft as they use a part of your webspace to show the image on their website and could also have copyright issues.  I’ve written about using images on blogs before so I am not going to go into that again, but you can read it here if you like.

Hotlinks can be malicious.  I found one that said “Here They Are My Frightful Kids.” about an image with my three kids in halloween masks.  It seems to have come from China so I am not keen to upset them and have just deleted the picture from my blog altogether.

Another hotlinked image was one I bought, and was linked to a s_e_x site, but showed up as a catering site.  It refreshed to a s_e_x site when I checked the visit link option, which worried me a fair bit.  I’ve deleted that one too.

I could have chosen to change the image to one that said “this image was stolen,” but I’m not keen to deal with those types of websites.  I may very well have replaced the image with another one if it was to another blogger who didn’t remove it when I asked them to.  If you’re wondering why the _ in the s_e_x word, it’s to stop it being flagged up in Google as a search term :-)

How to find hotlinks to your website.

Google Image Search is here:

The magic term to search on is: 

Click the magnifying glass to search for images hotlinked to your blog. (Change the site title to yours obviously)  Good luck and I hope none of you find any like mine.

Google Image Search

You may have to click the image to open it so that you can click “Visit Page” to see where it really goes.  ps, you may wish to install McAfee SiteAdvisor in your browser so that it can warn you if it is a risky website that you might end up going to.

Google Image Search 2


  1. says

    Had a go and I don’t think mine are on anything super dodgy (only vaguely dodgy), I did take a really deep breath when I hit the search button though, there’s some horrid stuff out there :(

  2. says

    Thanks for letting us know about this. No idea it could happen. I ran the search and fortunately it didn’t come up with anything, but I’ll run it periodically to check!

    • says

      There are lots that look innocent enough – picstopin cakechooser, vebidoo for instance. They all have malware hidden behind the hotlinked pictures, so if someone sees your yummy cake or cute kid and tries to download it as a screen saver or to ‘borrow’ or pin, it will install a trojan on their pc. This is where to report the sites to google. I’ve spent a happy day doing just that yesterday – whether it does any good or not I have no idea!

  3. Vaidehi Chincholkar says

    This is just horrific! I will be checking mine. But that’s not the point. Can they get away with this? Is there nothing we can do to stop it happening in the first place? I avoid posting any close-ups of my little one for precisely this reason.

    • says

      There are right click blockers that people can install on blogs, but determined people will find a way round those. For me, I suspect it will be keep an eye on it more often to see what’s happening and how much bandwidth others are taking away.

  4. says

    Oh god I feel sick. I’ve just checked and there are loads of mine linked to horridness. I’m actually crying. I want to delete my whole blog.

    Thanks for the heads-up – I’d have never known.

    • says

      Don’t do that. Take a few minutes. It’s a horrible feeling when we don’t know to what use people have put our images. Check the websites that have hotlinked and sort the image they are pulling from you if you are worried. Some people won’t mind some sites, though none should be hotlinking at all really.

  5. says

    Thanks for this post, so scary. I’ve found a really frightening site with images of my youngest. Deleting them (which I have done) is that the solution? As once I searched again, they images were still there?

    • says

      If you deleted the photos, it will take a little while to propogate onto their site. Visiting it again and refreshing may show it up as a broken image. There isn’t much we can do to find out about sites that download our photos and upload them to our websites, but ones that hotlink we can. You can change the image to something else, but I’d only do that if it was another blogger etc. Some of the links when they are followed don’t seem to show the actual image, but it must be there, buried somewhere on the websites before the link is shown as reaching back to us.

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