In the ‘old days’ – around 4 to 6 years ago, when the Google Blacklist was less of a news item – hackers were primarily interested in stealing customer data from websites. They would cause absolute havoc after breaking in, stealing anything from customer credit card details, usernames, addresses and other details to perpetuate identity fraud, as well as additional nefarious activities. Even before that, they really wanted to deface sites. Some even liked putting pornography on popular large news sites, whilst others used their hacking skills to make political statements.
When Hackers get your site on the Google Blacklist
Hackers have learned that this stuff is actually hard work! Now, hackers are better paid to provide a platform to other criminals. Yes you heard it. In most cases, the attacks that are going on today are primarily mercenary attacks that are funded to give criminals a place to stage their attacks from. If you are prone to such an attack, chances are your website will be placed on the Google Blacklist, which can lead to disastrous consequences.
Instead of hackers stealing your customer data, maybe defacing the site, or possibly making political statements, their biggest aim is to not be detected. They are being paid good money to place viruses and malware on your website, causing it to become a platform for distributing viruses and malware for them. When you consider it, it’s actually quite smart. The hacker drops a little bit of code on your site – completely invisible to the naked eye of course – and anyone who visits your site gets the virus or malware. It’s almost like someone in your office building purposefully putting a small dab of influenza virus on the doorknob of your office. No one knows about it, but anyone touching that doorknob gets infected. The Google Blacklist is bad news for site owners, but it protects visitors from being infected.
Are you a hackers companion?
Well, other than the obvious – affecting your customers’ systems and potentially being an unwitting companion to hacking – there are long-term effects of these activities. We all know that search engine rankings are very important. Most likely, you’ve spent a lot of money and time on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), based on the guidance of your webmaster or an SEO consultant, right? Yes, well those ranking you’ve worked hard on so that people can find you are also very attractive to hackers! Getting from top of the search-list to Google Blacklist is a particularly frustrating experience to site owners who would have spent days and weeks on SEO.
SEO Poisoning – what is it?
Hackers want your SEO results — and of course — they have a nifty trick to use them. As part of the little ‘package’ hackers deliver to your site, they usually also include a small snippet of very smart code affectionately known as SEO Poison code. The code says “hey, if Google is coming to this website for a visit, I’ll tell Google that the site says this and this (perhaps that Viagra and other drugs are great and free here!). If someone from California is browsing this website from their iPhone, just show them the normal page”. The effect of this of course, is that Google records that your web page said ‘Viagra is great!’. Google subsequently reflects that in their organic search engine rankings. So, instead of your page being about your latest product or service for example, it now shows in Google as a reference to a Viagra site. You won’t see this with your naked eye – only the search engine’s scanners will find this.
Even worse, if Google comes by your site and sees that you are handing out viruses and malware – even if it isn’t your fault and YOU don’t know about it – Google will immediately try and contact you, but only if you are registered with them (more on this later) and drop your website/blog from their search system. Yes, the years you put into your website/blog will evaporate instantly as the site is removed from their directory, and onto the Google Blacklist. This could be disastrous for any business, as anyone searching for you, your products, or service, won’t be able to find what your site should serve. Instead, they will see a big, nasty, flashing Google Blacklist screen that says the website is hacked! Can you imagine what this will do to your businesses reputation? Although the Google Blacklist will protect your visitors from downloading any malware on your site, your business and brand will sustain a hefty blow.
Website tools checklist
There are a few simple and important steps you should be following in order to protect your business from nasty attacks and the Google Blacklist. Your Webmaster or marketer may or may not be doing this, so you should review this checklist with them immediately so as to ensure that you are all on the same page when it comes to the security of your website or blog.
As well, we recommend that you develop some sort of internal process within your business that maintains this checklist, reviews it periodically and updates it when required. If you are a small business, this might be as simple as setting an Outlook reminder for quarterly reviews. For larger firms, you will want to integrate this into your operational processes for system uptime and maintenance. It’s much better if you’re the one to notice that your site is on the Google Blacklist rather than your customers.