Search engines like Google drive the majority of traffic to websites. Therefore, it is important for webmasters to appear high on search rankings and prominently in search results. To this affect website owners often spend large sums of money on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies: using the right keywords, getting linked to by popular sites, getting a dialogue about the website going on good forums and much more.
The popularity, relevance and importance of a website, which determines where in the search rankings it should appear, can simplistically, thought to be represented by one magic number: the Google PageRank. This article is not about how to calculate, improve or tune your Google PageRank.
This article will discuss how a hacker can break into your site, without you knowing and reduce your Google PageRank, thereby making your website plummet from the top rankings in search engines, making your business lose money and visibility.
On May 7th, 2010, we reviewed a compromise of one of many sites we scan on a daily basis. This site was attacked by a hacker who had exploited a vulnerability in the web application used to host the website. Once the hacker had identified the specific vulnerability, which was WordPress based, he injected spam links into the source code of the pages on the site.
All the spam links are nicely placed after the main body of the legitimate HTML portion and even starts with a comment tag “<!– google –>”!
The affect of this spam link injection was that the PageRank of the legitimate site was potentially reduced since many links on the website now pointed to spam or malicious pages. This could result in lower positioning in search results as displayed on various search engines. This is yet another case where webmasters and administrators, who are already overloaded with many tasks, were either unaware or could not pay attention to the security breach.
At stopthehacker.com we are always available to help. If you have suffered from a breach of this kind and would like to share your experience, please contact us.