What considerations should be made for security when using external links in DITA?

Security considerations are crucial when dealing with external links in DITA documentation. External links can pose various risks, such as directing users to potentially harmful websites or exposing sensitive data. To ensure the safety and security of your content, it’s essential to follow best practices when working with external links.

1. Validate External Links: It’s vital to validate external links to ensure that they lead to legitimate and safe destinations. Consider implementing a link validation process that periodically checks the validity of these links. This can help prevent broken links and mitigate the risk of linking to malicious websites or outdated content.


When creating an external link in DITA, you can include attributes for validation. For instance:

<link href="https://example.com" format="html" scope="external" validate="true">Visit Example Site</link>

Here, the “validate” attribute is set to “true” to enable link validation. This helps ensure that the link is actively checked for its validity.

2. Use HTTPS: Encourage the use of secure connections (HTTPS) when linking to external websites. This ensures that data transmission is encrypted and reduces the risk of eavesdropping or data manipulation. When specifying external links, ensure they start with “https://” to promote secure communication.


When creating an external link:

<link href="https://example.com">Visit Secure Example Site</link>

By including “https://” in the link, you emphasize the importance of secure connections.

3. Provide Clear User Guidance: Inform your users about the nature of external links and potential security implications. When creating content, include a brief note or icon to denote external links. This educates users about what to expect and helps them make informed decisions when following these links.

By implementing these security considerations, you can help protect your users and your content from potential security threats associated with external links in DITA documentation.