Author Topic: McAfee Site Advisor  (Read 1282 times)

Paul Sanders (AlpineSoft)

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McAfee Site Advisor
« on: October 06, 2008, 03:03:44 pm »
We had a run-in with McAfee SiteAdvisor recently which I felt I should share with you.  In case you don't know, SiteAdvisor is a service which McAfee offer (for free, although there is a charged-for 'premium' version, of course) which rates websites according to how safe they are (or not).  Or, to be more precise, how safe McAfee deem them to be, which is not the same thing at all.  SiteAdvisor is supplied as a brower toolbar and it flashes up a big red warning box when you visit a site they consider unsafe.

And this is where the problem comes in.  McAfee have a number of ratings criteria, but the one that caught us out is that they will downrate you for having links to other sites that they don't like.  In our case, we had a page of links to download sites that are kind enough to list our product.  Now it is inevitable that some such sites will contain a few dodgy downloads.  It is the way of the world and most people probably already know that they should be a bit careful when downloading software from an unfamiliar source (we digitally sign our software by the way, so I hopes that makes you feel a little more secure).  Anyway, what happened was that McAfee 'red flagged' us because of these links.  No matter that these were tucked away in a quiet backwater of our site doing nobody any harm and without doing us the courtesy of letting us know.

And this is the core of the problem.  Site owners are never contacted and may not (in fact, most likely do not) know that this has happened.  All we saw at our end was a drop-off in orders and in the number of people visiting our website.  And needless to say, we had no idea that the sites we had linked to were in any way deemed unsafe.  We were red-flagged for 6 months before we found out, and it took a number of angry emails and letters to get this put right. All-in-all it was a considerable drain on our time, energies, finances and reputation.

So SiteAdvisor, if you are listening, I think you should change your ways.  Many legitimate business are being undermined  by what you are doing and the answer is so, so simple:  contact site owners before you take any other form of action.  There, what's so hard about that?  Most site owners are trying to the right thing and will be more than willing to clean up their act (as we did), thus making the Internet a safer place.  But that won't sell SiteAdvisor subscriptions of course.  Red flags do that.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2008, 11:35:33 am by pauls »