One of BigTent’s main goals is to provide a secure online place for community groups to call home. Depending on your group, the notion of security can take on a variety of definitions. For a parents group, it might mean giving members a way to upload photos of their children — and having peace of mind that only other trusted members will see the images. For an alumni group or professional association, security might mean the ability to restrict the roster and other networking resources to members who are paid-in-full. For all groups, it means protecting members from spam and other unwanted intrusions.
Here are three ways we’ve set things up to fortify BigTent against prying eyes:
1. Restricted access. The only way members can join a BigTent group is through a special email invitation from a group leader. The leader may invite a member directly, or the member may cruise over to the group’s website and use it to request an invitation. To see this in action, check out our public page for the demo mothers’ group, Bay Town Mothers’ Club. If you look in the upper righthand corner, you’ll see a mini-form for potential members to request group membership:
Keep in mind that invitations are single-use only, and can’t be forwarded to unauthorized recipients.
2. Site encryption. We use https to keep outsiders from accessing your data when it’s in transit between your computer and our servers. All pages that contain sensitive personal information are encrypted and are as secure as a banking website. Every page of the manage area is encrypted as well.
3. Individual logins. A lot of groups that switch to BigTent are used to maintaining their own admin-only website areas, where the whole group shares a single username and password to log in. Sharing login information creates a problem whenever a member leaves (or gets banned) from the group, since that person can still access protected data.
On BigTent, each member of your group uses his or her own email address and password to gain access. Members can change their email addresses at any time, and can even use them to join multiple BigTent groups.
Stay tuned for another post that covers the tools we offer admins to guard the gates of group information.