In 2016, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ online systems experienced four distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks for its eCensus. According to The Strategist, the situation quickly escalated and became uncertain, leading to the closure of the eCensus to prevent confidential information from being downloaded. While no data was actually lost, the system itself stayed down for two days and had a massive impact on how the public perceived the online networks. This year, cybersecurity specialists and ethical hackers went to work to see if the online systems could be breached once more. As the 2016 incident has shown just how important robust cyber security measures are nowadays.
In a competitive, tech-driven world, cyber security can mean the difference between you and your competitors. With most companies operating online, search engine optimisation (SEO) and Google rankings are highly valuable tools to get a leg up. However, poor cyber security can negatively affect your SEO and therefore, your brand equity. As we discussed in our 'Why cyber security is Not Just the IT Department’s Job' post, marketing teams spend a lot of time and budget building brand equity. If your company’s reputation and equity take a hit, it’s going to affect customer loyalty — and your bottom line.
What Happens to SEO When a Cyber Attack Occurs?
Search engine optimisation is a series of techniques that help websites gain high-rankings, organic listings on search engines like Google and Bing. These search engines regularly crawl and index websites to update their rankings. If you have optimised content, they are more likely to rank your webpage at the top of the search results for specific keywords. As a general rule of thumb, good SEO encompasses quality content combined with a good user experience.
Technical SEO focuses on the latter. Forbes defines technical SEO as a technique that prioritises website architecture so search engines can properly crawl your site. However, there isn’t one overarching plug-in that allows you to have the “perfect” technical on-page SEO. As Ayima Kickstart points out, addressing technical SEO problems — like slow, nonresponsive, or difficult-to-navigate pages— can remove roadblocks that can hamper Googlebot’s crawl and improve internal link equity flow. It’s important to fix these issues regarding indexing and ranking, as they get in the way of letting great content shine.
When a cyber security problem arises, all your efforts to build up the technical aspects of your site go down the drain. If you become a victim of hackers, your website traffic may be redirected to third-party servers; Error 404 or 50X may also be generated, causing visitors to leave your website and click elsewhere. The worst-case scenario is when malicious attacks infect the website with malicious code or phishing attacks that target your visitors or customers, which is usually done by changing content to include new pages or outbound links. When your website’s security is compromised, customers will never want to return to it and leave a bad review.
What will also happen as a direct result of the hack is that search engines like Google will penalise your website for not having the proper security measures. Successful cyber attacks will push your rankings down or get you blacklisted because search engines want to safeguard their users from cybercrime. And even if you’re trying to resolve the issue, your rankings will drop lower because of the downtime.
Mitigating Cyber Attacks on Your Website
No matter how you look at it, cyber security problems are bad for business. It’s crucial to prevent breaches and hacks before they happen. One way you can do this is to find vulnerabilities a cybercriminal may exploit. Strengthening your overall website security by installing an SSL certificate can also help; this will encrypt your website’s data so customer information is safe and secure.
Of course, it’s hard to do all these things on your own with little to no experience. The Missing Link can help you safeguard your website by implementing security solutions to minimise the chances of your business getting compromised. Our security specialists can assess your environment and tailor a strategy to ensure your website can keep cyber criminals out.