New SiteAdvisor - Privacy Concern

Discussion in 'privacy general' started by jopa66, Aug 20, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. jopa66

    jopa66 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2004
    Posts:
    22
    Location:
    Windsor, ON Canada
    I apologize if this is not the correct forum for this post. I have alresdy posted my concerns on McAfee's own forums but but consider it important enough to post here as well.
    http://community.mcafee.com/showthread.php?p=526727#post526727

    It seems that the new updated SiteAdvisor v.2.8.271 (freeware) is leaving a list of every website visited in plain view for anyone to see. In my opinion, this is a heinous breach of privacy and it abhors me to think that a security company like McAfee would knowingly do this sort of thing. Many people take great pains to ensure that browsing history, cookies, cache etc. are swept away from the hard drive. And now, without any prior notice to users, McAfee have decided to secretly leave some sort of browsing history in Documents and Settings\NetworkService\Application Data\SACore\Cache

    The contents of the "Data.dat" files seem to be SiteAdvisor's rating for each of the websites visited. Although this info is not in any way nefarious, just the fact that this list even exists has infuriated me to the point where I will uninstall this peice of foistware and be done with it. It also goes without saying that my opinion of McAfee has definitely been tarnished.

    I don't use Firefox, maybe its different with that browser. Someone else can check that out if they want.

    Response from moderator is not very re-assuring, although he promises to inquire into the matter:
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ex_Brit
    It's not doing anything that your browser doesn't already do. However that file is hidden under normal circumstances.

    In XP it is: C:\Documents and Settings\LocalService\Application Data\SACore\Cache

    To see it one has to enable "View Hidden Files & Folders" under Windows Explorer Tools/Folder Options/View and regular computer users shouldn't normally have access to those hidden files and folders.

    I will ask why SA keeps a list locally, however. I don't have an old version handy to compare whether or not it also did that.


    My rebuttal:
    I realize the browser also leaves a history trail. My point is that the browser's cache is a *known* location which one can easily erase if desired. I forgot to mention in my last post that this folder is a hidden folder that would not show up on a regular user's inspection of the hard drive. So, firstly it is put there without the user's knowledge. Secondly, it is hidden so the average user will never know it is there. Again I will say that the info contained in this folder is not damaging in any way other than one could be questioned as to why they have been surfing to whatever websites. I do not imply that SiteAdvisor is spyware but, the tactics involved are definitely akin to spyware. I am astounded that a company such as McAfee would not take great caution to ensure that their software could never be perceived in this manner.

    I believe it is safe to say the old version did not behave this way since the creation date of the SACore folder is very recent, (07/30/200:cool: on my machine. I have deleted the contents, so I don't know the dates of the files and subfolders. Would be interesting though to know how many files and used up hard drive space others can find on their machines.

    My question(s) to this forum at Wilders: Am I being too paranoid? Is McAfee so trustworthy that it's OK for them to keep a list of every website I go to? Is it better to have this list on my computer rather than their servers? Is this list on their servers? What are they going to do with this list?
     
  2. JRViejo

    JRViejo Global Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Posts:
    20,962
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    First, let me preface this post by saying that I don't use McAfee's SiteAdvisor but when someone has questions about privacy concerns, the first thing one must do is look at the software's EULA, prior to installation, to see if the program is nefarious in any way. McAfee SiteAdvisor Privacy Policy is posted on their site, easily accessible via a link, and the Effective Date of the policy is November 14, 2006, which IMO indicates that older versions of their software were abiding by this policy all along. I'll attempt to answer your questions using their policy.

    "Is McAfee so trustworthy that it's OK for them to keep a list of every website I go to?"
    "Is it better to have this list on my computer rather than their servers? Is this list on their servers?
    What are they going to do with this list?"

    "Am I being too paranoid?"

    When dealing with the Internet, paranoid is a good thing... to a certain extent. If McAfee had not been open about posting their privacy policy, I would be paranoid as well, yet, they have stated what they are going to do with the collected info. McAfee's use of the word anonymous could also apply, in a legal sense, to hidden folders inside a computer and the reason why a typical non-techie user would never see them.

    To conclude this post, Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware) applies to any software, whether paid or free, before installation.
     
  3. jopa66

    jopa66 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2004
    Posts:
    22
    Location:
    Windsor, ON Canada
    Thank you for your response. And yes, I did read the EULA (albeit it was after I made this post but, before I read your response. :doubt: ). In any event the older verison did not store this list on the hard drive. Apparently, this new version (about three weeks old) is a total re-write of the software and was automatically downloaded/installed. (No...I don't want to go there!) There were other bugs and complaints which to my knowledge have now been rectified. My infuriation upon the discovery of this "hidden list" on my system was just too damn reminiscent of the detached corporate arrogance which has been seen too often over the years by many vendors. I can almost forgive this sort of thing by a young and upcoming company but, not by an icon of the industry, and a security icon at that!

    Regardless of the EULA and the very unlikely prospect that McAfee could or would ever use this list for nefarious purposes, it is still IMHO a privacy concern to have it sitting there on the hard drive. I agree that the "typical non-techie user" has little-to-no concern and therefore no real reason to see these files... But for someone who is tech-savvy and perhaps a little too curious for their own good - this is an open invitation to snoop into the private surfing habits of less knowledgeable Mr./Mrs./Ms "Typical User". Of course there are other ways to snoop, this is just a new one.
     
  4. JRViejo

    JRViejo Global Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Posts:
    20,962
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    jopa66, through discourse and the exchange of opinions on this subject, we have enlightened the "non-techie" user to be more vigilant in their use of software, paid or otherwise. Hundreds read these threads but only a few are willing to opine and now, those who are using SiteAdvisor will know what McAfee is doing, due to your post. And that, is a very good thing, indeed! :thumb:
     
  5. KookyMan

    KookyMan Registered Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2008
    Posts:
    367
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    I've avoided McAfee for years, and I must say after reading this (glad I finally did), I will be avoiding them for many many more years to come.
     
  6. JRViejo

    JRViejo Global Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Posts:
    20,962
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    KookyMan, not everything is bad in McAfee land. Over the years, I have used McAfee Avert Stinger to rescue many PCs from the grips of nasties detailed at the page you're about to see, so I'll cut them a little slack, but just a little. ;)
     
  7. acr1965

    acr1965 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2006
    Posts:
    4,954
  8. KookyMan

    KookyMan Registered Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2008
    Posts:
    367
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    I'm not a pro-norton fan anymore by any means either... McAfee used to dog any system I saw it installed on. and I was a Norton fan so I switched.. Now I'm a NOD fan. (its fast.)
     
  9. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2007
    Posts:
    2,069
    Too paranoid ? I know (I checked!) that earlier versions of the SiteAdvisor store data on your computer !

    You object that McAfee (does not equal SiteAdvisor) collects data on the websites you visit (and possibly more) ? McAfee has an 'arrangement' with Doubleclick to share (commercial) data, and Doubleclick shares data with ...
     
  10. JRViejo

    JRViejo Global Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Posts:
    20,962
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    McAfee's SiteAdvisor Privacy Policy also states the sharing of info with "selected outisde vendors."
     
Loading...
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.