White's Papers #3
“My Site Linked to Porn!” – Why You Should Google Your Own Business Regularly
By Dominic White. Posted May 19, 2016
Not all hackers hack your website...
Some of them hack your search results.
Recently I had a client call me in a panic. A customer had called him and informed him his domain name was linking to a porn site. The first thing that popped into my head was my client let his domain expire and it had been picked up by someone else, but when I typed his website into my computer it worked just fine. All content was present, unaltered and unsullied.
“It’s working fine,” I said. He did sound relieved but confused. He insisted his customer said when he clicked on the link after searching his business on google, it went to a porn site.
I went to google, searched his business name, and when I clicked on the link, sure enough I was taken to some seriously NSFW content.
When trouble shooting a hacked site I always start with the .htaccess document. In this client's .htaccess file I found a small snippet of code that redirected the referral links from google, bing, and yahoo, to a variety of randomly selected porn sites.
This is a particularly insidious kind of hack because it doesn’t affect your website at all so you may never notice it… until someone searching for your business does.
This is why I encourage my clients to google their own names every once in a while. Not only does it help see where you are in the search engine rankings, but you can see if someone has hijacked your search engine result links.
It’s also why I encourage all my clients to make sure their plugins and CMS versions are up to date.
The good thing about this hack is it is extremely easy to fix and once the code is removed from the .htaccess file, the problem is solved instantly. There is no waiting for the results to propagate through the search engine spiders.
To be notified when the latest White’s Paper is posted follow:
To receive White’s Papers in your inbox, Subscribe to the email list.