Over the past few weeks, I have seen more hacked websites rank well for topical keywords in Google search results. All of the sites in question are, in fact, legitimate websites but somehow share a common vulnerability which enables them to be exploited by hackers to rank for specific keywords and distribute malicious spyware efficiently.
For example, I just tried a search for more information on “Anthony Sowell”, who is the serial killer in Cleveland that the evening news keeps covering. The screenshot below shows that the four websites ranked from the 6th to 9th positions are all compromised and share the same parameter “? kkk=anthony-so well.”
If you click on any of those four results, you will be redirected to another domain that attempts to install the malware on your computer.
I picked some more examples of trending keywords on Google Trends, such as the company “Coins for Anything” that was recently highlighted in the news. Five of the Top 10 results are spam.
Website hacking is a serious issue that can have severe implications for businesses, including financial losses, damaged reputation, and legal consequences.
When hackers gain unauthorised access to a website, they can steal sensitive information, deface the site, inject malware, and even use it to launch further attacks. These actions can result in decreased organic search visibility and loss of customer trust and credibility, ultimately harming the business’s bottom line.
Ensuring your website is structured correctly and protected from hacking is possibly the most important thing for website security.
Adverse Effects of Website Hacking
Website hacking can lead to decreased organic search visibility and lost rankings on search engines. This can result in a significant decrease in website traffic and potential revenue loss. Additionally, website hacking can lead to losing customer trust and credibility. This could cost a business a fortune, especially if they spent money on technical SEO, large-scale development or local SEO.
Nearly 60% of consumers reported that they would not trust a website after it has been hacked. This loss of confidence can result in a significant drop in sales and revenue.
Website hacking can result in financial loss in various ways
Firstly, hackers can access sensitive information such as credit card numbers, bank account details, and other financial information. This information can be used to make unauthorised transactions or purchases, resulting in financial loss for the website owner and their customers.
Secondly, website hacking can result in the loss of revenue. This can happen if the hacker takes down or disrupts the website, causing customers to lose trust in the website and decrease sales. Once this happens, increasing your conversion rate to the level it was before the hack can be tough.
Additionally, if the website is not secure and customers become aware of this, they may choose to take their business elsewhere, resulting in lost revenue for the website owner.
Thirdly, website hacking can result in legal and regulatory fines and penalties. The website owner may be liable for legal action or regulatory fines if customer information is compromised due to the website hack. These fines can be significant and result in financial loss for the website owner.
Overall, website hacking can result in significant financial loss for website owners and their customers. Website owners need to take steps to secure their websites and protect sensitive information to avoid such financial losses.
A hacked website can damage the reputation of the business
It can damage their reputation in several ways. Firstly, customers may lose trust in the company’s site and be reluctant to use their services or purchase their products.
Additionally, if the breach results in a loss of consumer data, the company may face legal consequences and negative media attention. The breach may also result in the company being blacklisted by Google, further harming its online reputation.
Furthermore, a slow or inadequate response to the breach can worsen the company’s image with consumers. Therefore, protection against hacking is necessary to safeguard a business’s reputation, as cyber breaches can cause irreparable harm to a brand’s image.
Hacking a website can be catastrophic to a business due to potentially losing valuable data
Such data can include customer information, financial records, business plans, and other confidential information.
This data loss can devastate a business, setting them back years in terms of operations, customer service, and financial stability. Not only can the loss of data cause a company to lose its competitive edge, but it can also take significant resources to recover the data, leading to substantial losses in time and money.
Furthermore, data loss can also lead to potential legal and regulatory issues and significant reputational damage. To protect their businesses, companies must invest in robust security measures to protect their websites and data from malicious hackers.
Legal Implications for a hacked website
A hacked website can create various legal issues for a business, including customer claims, potential fines or prosecution, and a damaged reputation.
Depending on the specific circumstances of the hack, this could result in a breach of contract, negligence, or a breach of data protection legislation. Businesses should review their cybersecurity plans and, if necessary, put one in place to protect against cyber attacks, such as the Cyber Essentials scheme.
Professional legal advice should always be sought before taking action relating to a hacked website.
Google penalty if a website is hacked
A business owner may receive a Google penalty if their website is hacked because the hacker may have added malicious content to the website, such as spammy links or malware. This could lead to Google detecting malicious content and penalising the website by lowering its ranking in the search results.
Alternatively, the hacker may have gained access to the website’s back end and made changes to the website’s content and design.
This could lead to Google detecting the changes and considering the website to be of low quality.
Website hacking can devastate businesses, including decreased organic search visibility and loss of customer trust and credibility. Implementing best practices for website security is crucial to prevent security breaches and maintain customer trust.
Streamline Metrics is a successful example of a website and SEO agency that has helped businesses improve their website security and to avoid security breaches.
By considering consumer behaviour and maintaining website security, companies can prevent revenue loss and maintain their online reputation.