Section : General Information

Dermatologist Featured on Another Dermatologists Website (Unwillingly?)

Dermatologist Featured on Another Dermatologists Website (Unwillingly?)

“I guess if a man lives long enough he gets to see everything, and I do mean everything.” Carl Fox (Wall Street (movie), 1987)

What Happened?

  • One day a dermatologist (Dr D.) opens a website traffic software (Google analytics) to find a strange link pointing to a competitor with. The visit comes from a distant location.
  • By clicking on this link, Dr D. lands on his/her own website on a page. This page is about a common cosmetic procedure.
  • By looking more closely, Dr D. sees five other insertions bearing the name of a dermatologist located a few hundred yards away !
  • After checking the same page on his/her other website, he/she notices that the tags have been present for over a decade…tough luck !

Analysis

How could it have happened ?

  • There are many ways to insert tags.
  • An apparently obvious answer is that old websites before the google panda update often included a plugin which allows search terms such as “SEO search Terms tagging” to be included in the tags list after a search term is used and to add more tags on a specific page. (SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization).
  • Such techniques can harm a website by keyword crowding, by reducing website traffic for example. At the same time give visibility to the inserted term.
  • The database may have then been copied to be included on the new website. It remains a mystery though, how a non indexed website can obtain a direct visit without a search query attached to it.

First question: Is it legal ?

  • The insertion of tags is legal, more exactly an automatic insertion is. On the other hand a human insertion where there is intent is not.
  • How about an uncontrollable automated insertion with human intent ? It might be difficult to prove in a front of a court of law the difference between carelessness and ill-intent.

Second question: Is it ethical ?

  • The insertion of identifiers of a colleague in the same location opens the questions of integrity as there are real consequences such as unfair competition and intellectual property violations.

Find the hacker: a rare thing

  • By talking to coders and developers, she learns that finding the culprit of this behavior is still rare, very rare.

The need to understand

  • For those who yearn for understanding and meaning, investigations should be sought to clarify and correct (not punish), so that society protects those who develop services often at the expense of personal risks.

Conclusion

  • In todays world, we communicate through digital technologies and a website can be viewed as a welcome rug which identifies us to others.
  • Be aware of what your marketing agencies are doing exactly in your name…results are important, but “why” and “how” also do.
  • In this case, it becomes apparently possible to “take” by inserting….and this is really disturbing.

What do you think ?

Are ethics enough or is it necessary to apply regulation ?

Please share if you found the article interesting.

To protect both parties, all identifying features have been removed.