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The easy way: Dealing with large-scale move of RSS feeds from HTTP to HTTPS

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wget for Maney journal RSS feeds

A month ago, the world suffered a global cyberattack named by the international press as the ‘biggest ransomware’ offensive in history. Although the attack used a technique known as phishing (hackers spread a “ransomware” called WannaCry tricking email users into opening attachments and releasing malware onto their system) companies and organisations implemented every security measure available to them. One of those most common measures implemented by many journal publishers was to switch every webpage from HTTP to HTTPS (secure protocol) in order to encrypt and transport their content safely over the net.

While using https for every webpage, including pages that do not contain sensitive information, could seem to be an exaggerated and disputable measure, it is one of the quickest and efficient ways to protect a website. However, this measure has produced an unintended effect in the case of the RSS feeds used by journals to announce their new content: As a result of all these URLs changing, people who have manually added the previous URLs to feed readers are finding that those feeds are now out of date and are not providing the latest Tables of Contents. Even in the popular RSS reader services such as Netvibes, the previous feed URLs are not working.

It is up to individuals if they wish to load RSS feeds into their own readers, but in doing so, if the URL changes, individuals will then need to manually update the feeds in question. The benefit of using an aggregation service such as JournalTOCs is that we constantly maintain our database of feeds to ensure that we link only to the latest ones and that the content displayed in JournalTOCs is up-to-date. In the past couple of weeks we have updated thousands of feeds, using manual and automated methods, and this work continues. In essence, JournalTOCs does the work so that you don’t have to.

Written by Santiago Chumbe

June 23rd, 2017 at 2:26 pm