In the latest on SEO scams, attackers are targeting businesses with a Google My Business listing, says web security company Sucuri.
As a business owner managing your online presence, the last thing you want people to see when your business shows up in search results are photos of naked men and other lewd subjects. Attackers are putting these pictures up in order to damage a business’s reputation and trustworthiness.
The images are not being slipped onto the server the business is on, but instead are being hosted by Google Maps.
What is Happening?
The process is actually very simple. Since anyone can add photos to a business’s location in Google Maps, all an attacker has to do is upload a vulgar photo. Google’s Knowledge Graph often shows the most recently uploaded images, so there is a high chance that the unwanted photo will be seen by searchers. Advanced attackers can make it seem like the photo is popular among users, with fake hits, increasing the chance of the photo showing up in search results.
What Can You Do?
As a web user searching on Google, you can help by flagging the inappropriate images (little white flag icon), every time you see one. If you are searching in Google Maps, you can use the “reporting a problem” link. It does takes Google some time to review a report or flag.
Business owners can simply log into their Google My Business account and delete the unwanted photos. If you don’t have control of the Google My Business page, claim and verify it as soon as possible! It is also recommended to check your photos daily, in order to catch a problem as soon as possible.
There really is not a monetary benefit to posting these vulgar images. Attackers just want to hurt the business. Chances are that attacks are coming from a competitor, or from someone who is bored and has nothing better to do. It’s unclear just how widespread the problem is, but it is definitely something to keep a sharp eye out for!