What A Security Breach Means For SEO

We know you don’t need another carbon copy of Mashable’s “Heartbleed Hit List,” so we’re not going to give it to you, don’t worry. But there are still certainly some things that should be gleaned from this incident, and as arbiters of SEO truth, we’ll take it upon ourselves here at TrafficZoom to explain some of those next-step implications—and answer the question of “What do security breaches do to your SEO?”

Google took the biggest hit from Heartbleed, it seems, but they’ve applied a patch and told everybody to change their passwords. So everything’s good now, right?

Nope. At the end of the day, the ominous line remains in all of the Heartbleed-related articles: there’s really nothing users can do at this point except sit, wait, and see. But even before you can tell if you got hacked, knowing what someone might do with that information can be a great defense in anticipation of the worst.

For those of us in the SEO business, there are at least a few things you should definitely be aware of.

Malware Hurts Rankings

There’s really not much more to it than that. Because the Heartbleed virus essentially allows a hacker to send up to 64KB from the server back to the client, it’s not hard to slip in a Malware virus undetected.

This malware virus, then later detected by Google’s index, will cause your site’s ranking to drop like a hot rock.

Check your site for malware, and get it fixed.

Spam Spam Spam

If for some reason, enterprising black-hat SEO champions decide to hack into users with a bug like Heartbeat, your email accounts could be used for a simple purpose: spamming links.

All of a sudden, your credible email address is posting links on everyone and your mother’s comment sections, promoting a blog or site that you’ve never even heard of.

Don’t let people use your name for bad backlinks.

Jetpack: Automated or Overridden?

While Jetpack is an incredibly useful application for automated blog posting, its major flaw can have serious drawbacks for SEO.

A hacker can pretty easily bypass access on your Jetpack account, and begin posting blogs that bump up their PageRank. And they probably don’t care to adhere to your guest posting guidelines, either.

So doomsday theories aside about what Heartbleed can do to your online presence, it’s good to be equipped with some actionable next steps. Hopefully these can be that for you, and help you to protect what matters most: your standings on Google.

Does Google’s Acquisition of Nest Labs Mean We’re One Step Away From Big Brother?

According to a press release put out on Monday, Google has acquired another tech company. Now, Google’s no stranger to acquisitions—having scarfed up more than twenty companies in the last year alone—and has bought out a number of companies in the worlds of VoIP, Robotics, Wind Turbines, Coupons, and plenty more. But when Google announced it’s $3.2 Billion cash agreement with Nest Labs, Inc. this week, it raised more than a few eyebrows.

And not just eyebrows: it accidentally raised the value of a penny stock, Nestor, by 1900%.

OK, so Google has another neat, seemingly innocuous gadget company in its tool belt—it’s just expanding into the hardware market, which is admittedly its weaker area—what’s the big deal? Plus, there’s the happy middle finger that they get to throw Apple’s way (Nest Labs, Inc. is run by the creator of the iPod). Seems like a big win.

But we’re suspicious that Google isn’t just really psyched about smoke alarms.

The press releases quotes Google CEO Larry Page saying of Nest Labs, “They’re already delivering amazing products … thermostats that save energy and smoke/CO alarms that can help keep your family safe. We are excited to bring great experiences to more homes in more countries and fulfill their dreams!” And it made us wonder, why has Google all of sudden become so concerned with home safety?

And then we got a little paranoid.

Maybe it’s all the Snowden in the air, but we got to thinking: could Google be on its way to becoming Big Brother? Think about the facial recognition, RoboCop-esque capabilities in Google Glass being developed over at their labs. How far off it would be for Google to incorporate that same technology into iOS- and Android-equipped smoke alarms, installed in “more homes in more countries” all over the world?

Tony Fadell, Nest Labs’ CEO, said in the press release that he believed Google would help Nest build “simple, thoughtful devices that make life easier at home, and that have a positive impact on the world.” And while we don’t doubt that they could… we’re just saying you may want to keep your voice down around your thermostat.

In fact, it might not be a bad idea for us to be cloaking this blog post.

Whatever Google’s fascination with home safety may be, we’re sure they’ll be doing some big things with Nest Lab’s products. We’re looking forward to seeing where they go next, hopefully before they see us.

Has Your Internet Privacy Become An Oxymoron?

With recent revelations by Edward Snowden about the U.S. Government and NSA surveillance, many people have started to wonder if internet privacy has become an oxymoron. Most recently, a story circulated about a New York family, the Catalanos, who received a visit from the Suffolk County Police Department, a member of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).

Twitter also disclosed that it received more information requests from the government in the first half of 2013 than it did in the first half or second half of 2012, respectively. While Twitter obliged approximately 66 percent of these requests, they are hopeful of increased transparency into the secret orders for this information.

Fallout from Snowden’s revelations and stories like the ones mentioned above have led many to wonder what internet users can do to protect their privacy.

To start with, it’s best to sign out of your Google, Yahoo, or other accounts when casually surfing the internet. You can clear out your search history, but a better alternative is to visit the support page for your particular browser and follow instructions on clearing cache and cookies. It will erase your settings and passwords for websites, but if privacy is important to you it’s good to note that this is the primary way internet sessions are recorded.

After clearing cookies, you can open a new internet window in incognito mode. This simple option, which can usually be selected in the toolbar, prevents any internet activity performed in the incognito window from being recorded in your browsing history and deletes cookies once you close the window.

Some who value privacy may find it worthwhile to pay for a reliable proxy server, which serves as a third party, making their IP address viewable instead of the one associated with your own account. As a result, any internet activity through the proxy server isn’t associated with your IP address. There are free alternatives, but quality and reliability are something to keep in mind.

If you just want to make a search quickly with the assurance it will be private, you can look to Google alternative, DuckDuckGo. It’s free and anonymous, and while it doesn’t display the expansive results Google will, it can be a good choice for those who want an easy, fast way to search something they’d rather keep private.

Most people have nothing to hide and value their privacy on principle. In an age of email and cloud storage, the internet and computers are unarguably useful tools in our daily personal and professional lives. The most common sense approach is to be wise about the information and content you store, share, and post about online. The tips mentioned above are a good start to assuring that our personal information and private behavior are not sacrificed at the hands of a technology intended to help us live an easier, more productive life.