Cover art of the Writing for Young Audiences Issue: A cartoon illustration of someone writing on a typewriter that is illuminated by a table light
Houston: Cybersecurity and Virus Protection
Data security and protection. Mysterious and anonymous hacker man in hoodie jacket looking at a laptop

I’ve been preoccupied (okay, obsessed) by candidate election tampering, especially election hacking. As if the issue and my wasting time obsessing about it weren’t enough, I recently talked to the husband of a playwright friend, a man who set up and monitors his wife’s professional website and learned that her website is constantly under attack by hackers. He’s a retired IT manager who’s had to expend time to find and install ever more robust virus protection and cybersecurity against hackers. His wife’s site performs well now, but in the recent past it had become sluggish, then phlegmatic and finally comatose. He investigated and found that a foreign company had attached its own website to his wife’s domain site. This super “para-site” was ingesting and spewing so much internet traffic that it paralyzed his wife’s more conventionally designed website.

I did a little internet research and learned that the providers of virus and hacker protection software and cybersecurity services agree that maintaining a site’s security requires constant upgrades to protect your website against the latest advancements in hacking, phishing, and viral design. I reached out to some Houston dramatists and AD friends and asked them how they protect their professional websites and their answers were all over the map. They (or their website hosting company) use a variety of virus and cybersecurity software. The cost of these ranges greatly. I visited their websites and discovered that several of the dramatists’ sites and two of the smaller theatres’ sites have websites that are not secure i.e, these websites are not Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) sites but merely Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) sites. As Wikipedia states, HTTPS “is used for secure communication over a computer network…”

If you’re like me, you’re busy with work and writing, you have no interest in becoming an IT tech and, even if you did, you lack the time to become one. So, what to do? What I did was to give up my domain name and use the Dramatists Guild’s Member Directory to store a version of my bio. You may not know this, but anyone who goes online has access to your Member Directory profile. As it states on the DG website, “Be sure everyone in the industry can see you are a member of the Guild. Every member at every level is displayed in our searchable Member Directory on our website. The listing will include your name, location and creative roles.” Although DG Associates currently do not have the option to add a detailed profile, DG Members do (see the levels of membership here). So, if you are a Member, why not focus on keeping your Dramatists Guild profile up-to-date and let the DG provide your cybersecurity and virus protection? I just searched my name on the internet and my DG Member Directory profile popped up fourth on the list—nicely near the top and reminding me that once again I need to update it.

I linked my Member Directory profile to my profile on the New Play Exchange (NPX) where my plays that I chose to save to the NPX site are accessible by other dramatists and theatre professionals who are members of NPX. According to NPX, there are 814 “theatres, development organizations, contests, festivals, and college/university theater programs” using the site.

I realize this isn’t a viable option for many dramatists, but for me it eliminates at least one thing to obsess about.