WEB development and search engine optimisation specialist Mark Edwards, from Coast company iEnhance, has urged businesses to immediately review the security of their websites.
He recently took on a client that had lost its Google ranking and had problems with programmers.
Mr Edwards noticed some shocking gaps in security when he took a closer look at the site.
“We found we could access the personal details of customers, by simply changing some fields in the URL string.
“More frightening was that we could also hack into our client’s other websites simply by changing a very small part of the URL.
“Any school kid would know how to do this sort of thing, it is not complex hacking.
“With this access, we were quickly able to access my client’s financial information, as well as business history (and their clients’ information).”
Mr Edwards said the important thing to note was just as he could access this information so easily, so could Google.
“My client was extremely fortunate that Google had not indexed the “private” parts of the site, and had not published all of the details.
“The costs involved in breaching privacy like this would be enough to have put our client out of business very very quickly. It absolutely infuriates me to know that people are having their businesses put at risk due to people not understanding the ramifications of their incompetent actions.”
Mr Edwards said you should do your homework and ask for references when you are getting someone new to work on any part of your business.
Published on the 30th November 2010: Sunshine Coast Daily
So, you are a business with a website.You might get one or two emails a week from people who have found you on the net.
Then you engage a search engine optimisation specialist and all of a sudden you are booked out every single day.
Mark Edwards is used to this type of scenario. He creates it with his team of programmers and designers at Noosa business iEnhance every day of the week.
He started the business in 2008, but even in two short years, there have been endless blink-and-you'll-miss-them changes to the way businesses promote themselves online.
"When I first started, online marketing was fairly simple. There was no social media just a few years ago, no Facebook or Twitter.
"Search engine optimisation meant adding a few meta tags; now it is increasingly complex and keeping up and ahead of change is vita.
"Internet business use is expanding rapidly too, across generations, cultures and physically across countries too. Competition online is increasing accordingly. Businesses really must have practical, not just pretty websites and online marketing plans to compete effectively 24-7."
Mark Edwards works with a range of businesses on the Sunshine Coast and overseas including resorts, private detectives, car yards and small businesses.
"We worked closely with Noosa Riviera, a boutique resort in Noosaville, who cam to us after laboriously managing their Adwords (pay per click) campaign," he said.
"We used the data they had gathered through Adwaords, the researched a strong keyword set for them and began our search engine optimisation campaign.
"We quickly drove the same amount of quality trafic to their website for less cost. We recently launched their new website and since then they've noticeably converted more potential customers and their rankings have risen dramatically so people find them and book fast, because they are at the top of the search list."
"Mr Edwards said the most important SEO tip was to ensure any website content was relevant, interesting, regularly updated and substantial.
"And make sure other sites are acknowledging you (if they use your content)," he said.
"Search engines are here to stay, so it should absolutely be part of a marketing or advertising budget to help online customers out there come to you."
By Rebecca Marshall - Business Editor of the Sunshine Coast Daily