How to block Trump-loving Russian hackers in Google Analytics
This evening I happily made my way to AgileCMO’s Google Analytics to check in. Immediately I noticed unusual traffic coming from Russia, China, and Germany. I checked the languages and noticed as well some unwelcome visitors:
Here at AgileCMO, we’re all about bringing people together, but suffice it to say we don’t speak– well–any of these languages. Taking a hint from lines 3 and 4, I came across this article on Vice about a Russian Hacker, Vitaly Popov, who has been spamming sites.
“…Popov has registered websites that use the latin version of letters, meaning he can get a URL that looks very much like google.com, but directs visitors elsewhere. And Popov has been including pro-Trump messages in his spam.”
Notice he set his language to: “Secret.ɢoogle.com You are invited! Enter only with this ticket URL. Copy it. Vote for Trump!,” Oye vey.
So enough of the story – I imagine you’ve found yourself in a similar position, so let’s fix it.
Who to block
The reality is that you probably work with specific countries – I’m guessing the US, or at least English speaking countries. That helps with this fix, as you must be willing to sacrifice data from the countries you block. If you’re unsure if you should proceed, quickly take a look at the geography of your visitors, and if you can, the geography of your customers. Avoid blocking them if they are relevant to your business.
I’m choosing to block just China and Russia, as I can’t confirm we were being spammed by anyone in Germany.
How to block them
Head to the Admin panel of your Analytics instance and under “View” on the right side, click “Create New View.” This allows you to have a totally clean view of your data. This way, moving forward, you can be sure you’re blocking who you want to block. I’ve named this view ‘Filterbots’, but it’s completely arbitrary. This is just for confirmation moving forward, but once created, head back to your All Web Site Data view before moving forward.
Next, select “Filters” under your view and click the “Add Filter” button. Name your filter, and select “Custom” for the filter type. Click the drop down of the filter field and search for ‘Country’.
Under Filter Pattern, type the actual country you’re blocking. Once done, click the filter verification link and GA will confirm how many instances it finds:
Save, and repeat for your next country.
Well, if you’re driving thousands of views a day to your site you may not need to, but clean data is important. I noticed that Russia’s session duration on AgileChiefMarketer.com averaged over 5 minutes, which is going to skew my data. Not cool. It’s also good to set your site to focus on the prospects who matter, cleaning out those who are simply never going to buy from you. For us, this makes sense.
I do hope this simple change has helped you to dodge shady hackers in your analytics data. If we at AgileCMO can help you further, we’d be happy to!