It often goes unsaid, that social media and search engine optimization can actually hurt a business. Crazy idea right? Everyone and their mother is out there spending countless man hours and eviscerating their marketing budgets on these two very lucrative strategies to gain new customers and clientele. However; the threat landscape is evolving, and part of that real estate is your piece of the pie. Your social media presence and your search engine visibility are at risk, which ultimately puts your brand at risk.
It didn’t take much to influence this post. Especially, since I have seen a 60% increase in the number of social media related attacks in the first 10 months of 2013 alone. I am going to briefly discuss why each outlet is used to improve brand visibility and popularity without going too far in depth, and then discuss what is at risk, who is targeting you, and what you should include in your strategy to defend against and mitigate such attacks.
For those of you who live in the stone age, here is a little primer on the subject matter.
Social Media and SEO or Search Engine Optimization are two of the most employed marketing strategies in use today. Every one is investing at least some of their resources in either one or both of these strategies to gain the necessary brand exposure to propel their business… and why not?
Social Media provides businesses with a direct line of communication to their clients and potential customers. They can direct their resources specifically at those individuals who have an interest in their brand’s products or services.
On the other hand… SEO is a strategy to improve the visibility of a brand in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) by indirectly reaching the intended audience. In other words, relevant content, paired with a little search engine intuition as to how the algorithm ranks a page can help improve the position of a domain in the result set of a given search query. It doesn’t sound like rocket science, and it isn’t, but it is extremely competitive and the big boys out there with the larger marketing budgets will make quite the investment just to have that much of an edge over their competition.
Time and time again, I have been put between a rock and a hard place with the question, “Why would any one bother hacking my Facebook account?”.
I often respond with this, “You have over 100,000 fans. You spend several thousand dollars a month in advertising. You acquire more than 15% of your customers from Facebook. Why wouldn’t someone hack it?”.
If that little scenario didn’t lay it out for you, hopefully this will:
What I outlined above are “the big four”. Keep in mind that there are many forms of malware, many forms of phishing attacks, and don’t forget that there are inherent vulnerabilities in the platform software that when discovered, sometimes lead to a mass account compromise that you could fall victim to.
Good question… “What IS negative SEO?”.
As I mentioned earlier, SEO is a strategy that is employed to improve ranking in the SERP by providing quality content to your audience, optimizing your website and your content based on assumptions as to how the search engine algorithm works, and making sure that your content is relevant to how it is optimized. Relevant meaning that you did not optimize your web page for how to pick the perfect engagement ring when your content is about selling male enhancement supplements.
If you haven’t already guessed, Negative SEO is a strategy that is employed to drop your rank in the SERP. Instead of following the rules, we simply break them all. Your on-site optimization (keywords, description, alt attributes, etc.) could be intentionally optimized for irrelevant content. Your site could be backlinked from thousands of domains that are synonymous with spamming. Your site IP addressed could be submitted to spam and malware blacklists. The possibilities are endless, and by now… I think you get the point.
Most commonly, there are four types of adversaries that fall into this realm. Now this doesn’t encompass all of the possibilities, but based on my experience… this is what you should look out for.
Every business is different. Every business markets different. With that being said, I am aiming to highlight the points that you should definitely explore and (hopefully) include within your marketing and security strategy.
Remember, security should be in the DNA of the business. Not bolted on after the fact. Include it in every aspect of your business… including marketing!
Again… the threat landscape is evolving and in order to keep your investment in marketing working for you, you need to understand what is at risk, who is targeting you, and what you can do to build a defense. With the growing number of social media attacks and brand based attacks in general, I am sure that 2014 is going to be filled (yet again) with a plethora of security woes. With the information provided, I hope that it can at least help deter such an attack from happening to you.
If you have anything that you would like to include, I strongly encourage it. This is a hot topic right now and there is a big demand for those of you who are researching the subject matter. Please feel free to contact me with any of your thoughts or questions. I would love to hear from you.