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8 months ago

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Spam attack impacts Google Analytics accounts worldwide

In February 2021 many organisations saw an unexpected spike in web traffic. James Akers, Data Analytics and Insight Tech Champion, explains what caused the spike and what steps organisations can take to remove any spam data.

Google Analytics, a free web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic, is widely used across arts and culture organisations to track online behaviour. For an introduction to the platform you can watch a recording of James’ webinar on Google Universal Analytics for absolute beginners.

Spam traffic includes fake referrals from domains, keywords and events that pollute site analytics with high volumes of data to bring attention to their site. Sophisticated spam attacks send data directly to analytics accounts, bypassing websites altogether. Spammers usually do this to try and get you to visit their own website and sell you their services, other times they do it to be a nuisance.

This latest attack sent fake data to many Google Universal Analytics accounts, inflating figures and skewing results. James says:

“Spam analytics traffic is usually caught by Google’s automated systems or filters put in place by organisations. This new attack has been able to bypass those and fill reports with fake user sessions to non-existent pages. I’m hopeful that Google will take action to remove this data from any affected accounts. In the mean time, there are steps organisations can take to filter it out so reports are no longer skewed.”

If you’ve seen a spike in your February website traffic, then read James’s practical resource on how to deal with the spam attack or contact James for support. The resource explains what caused the attack, why it’s a problem and what you can do about it.

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