Do you have a Google My Business listing? Beware of attempts to compromise it!

Nothing that involves the internet and being online is totally safe and secure. This has always been the case and as technology has advanced over the last few decades so have the methods and ways to compromise it. In this blog post we consider the latest problem with Google My Business and how this should be addressed.

It has been made known that there is something amounting to a ‘smear’ campaign occurring against businesses who use this facility. In short, pictures are being deliberately added to profiles which are malicious and unsavoury in nature. Some of these are very graphic and the purpose of it is obvious – to discredit the reputation of the business.

Most attempts to compromise a website are normally achieved through hacking, but it has been reported that this is even not needed in this case and is more to do with an exploitation of the images section of Google Maps and also Google’s ‘knowledge graph’ section generally.

The worrying thing about this is that when you sit down and think about it a person can do this with reasonable ease due to how the process is set up. The ability to add photos on an area which gives a business location is a free-for-all, meaning that it can be done by just about anyone. Following from that there is then a big chance that anything uploaded will be displayed on Google’s knowledge graph as recent uploads are normally shown. This in turn means there is good chance (or bad chance in this case) that the image and lisiting will be shown in the search results. The perpetrator can then manipulate the hits making it look as though it is popular which in turn increases the likelihood of it being shown.

What can be done about this?

Firstly the best way to see if you have become a target of this is to search for your business and see what images come up in the results. If you are unlucky enough to have been targeted, then simply sign in to your Google My Business area and remove any images that you do not want or like which may have been added. The recommendation is then to do this vetting and auditing process regularly to ensure any sabotage attempts are stopped or at least halted early.

The good news about this breach is whilst it is another inconvenience it is very easy to stop and deal with effectively. The real problem here is being aware of it in the first place and this is what most spammers are relying on – that people simply aren’t aware.

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