SiteAdvisor -- strange

Discussion in 'other software & services' started by jcollake, Jan 11, 2011.

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  1. jcollake

    jcollake Registered Member

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    I will make this short and sweet, as I've written enough about it:

    1. I had previous trouble with SiteAdvisor over a false positive on a freeware utility I authored. The RED rating persisted months after the false positive was fixed (on their end by Avertlabs, their R&D arm).
    2. I was contacted a couple years (approx) later by a salesperson for Mcafee Secure. They wanted me to buy certification for thousands a year. I didn't have that kind of money, but knew their power. I didn't mention the previous problem, and so told her 'maybe next month'.
    3. She makes a strange request that I email her to confirm the conversation (get domain name for sure?)
    4. A month later they try to call and I don't answer. She emails. I say I don't have enough money.
    5. THE NEXT DAY their highest ranking (in post count and 9/9) reviewer bot with over 2 million site reviews (1000+ average a day) comes and reviews my site saying only I have malicious content and such, giving no specific example because there is NONE. I have NO OTHER negative comments since the first incident, which a mistaken reviewer later recanted (a long freaking time).
    6. I remain GREEN, thanks to my previous false positive (ironically)
    7. They call back again, last chance opportunity .. The price is now 1/4 of what it was originally. I decline and we both say 'oh darn'.

    Does this sound strange? A bit extortionist, or is that just coincidence? They may make me RED now as I've expressed my concerns publicly. It just upsets me because I remember how I was hurt before, and know others are being hurt.. meanwhile those who can 'pay up' can do whatever they want, so long as it isn't detected as malware (several examples of that.. e.g. FreeCreditReport.com, check them vs on Web of Trust). I would have went RED and had to 'pay up' their insanely high prices. Some would call this extortion I think.

    I dunno, maybe I am jumping to conclusions.. but why allow reviewer bots? And I could see salespeople, eager for commission, independently pulling this off. I was given a specific email address, and always talked to the same person.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2011
  2. guest

    guest Guest

    o_O
    Give more information.
     
  3. jcollake

    jcollake Registered Member

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    Ok.

    2 years (or so) ago:
    Initial false positive rating issue was also reported and debated in this forum. I had a false positive on MakeService.exe, a freeware utility I authored to turn normal Windows applications into services. This caused a RED rating of my entire web site. Mcafee's Avertlabs acknowledged and fixed the false positive. 3 months later, FINALLY my site went GREEN again.

    Time passes, only positive comments from users.

    Current:
    I get a phone call from the sales rep, as stated above. This is real high pressure sales. I mean, worse than car salesmen. When I said I didn't have the money, they wanted to explorer my credit cards with me to find out (that pushy). It was a woman though, who later transferred me to a man. I said I simply couldn't afford what they wanted, but stalled them and said maybe next month. I did not mention my previous problem with SiteAdvisor.

    A month passes. She calls. She calls. I don't answer, etc... She emails. I say,"I just don't have the money". Within 24-36 hours (trying to nail it down due to time zones) their highest posting 'bot' reviewer says of my site:

    Notice no specific information because there is no malware. I run a clean site, PERIOD. It was either some false positive or an out-right lie (I favor the latter). My total rating continues to be GREEN, thankfully -- else business would suffer substantially (as it did before in their last 'oopsie').

    I say 'bot' because at 2 million posts, averaging over 1000 a day, all with the same generic texts. Don't tell me that's a human.. Note: This is actually their TOP reviewer, showing just how wide-spread this potential scheme may be (or perhaps size obfuscates, I don't know).

    So then I get a last minute call. The price has dropped to 1/4 of what it was. "I must act now", she uttered. She said she didn't know how Intel would change things and the price could go up. I couldn't, I didn't even have that much money. Well, I had it, but owed it to the IRS -- so that's not having it, that's holding it ;). She literally asked about my credit cards at this time, lol. Doing me this huge favor, and perhaps she was in her mind. Little did she know that I'd been attacked on SiteAdvisor by their top reviewer all the sudden... or did she know?

    What is up with the bots anyway? Is it because the bots can post whatever without legal consequences? They clearly approve of them, as they allow them to continue. Are they behind them? If not, who is? Are they using and abusing that power? Do they have power even, or is it all up to the site scanner? I don't know.

    Was this a coincidence combined with aggressive sales tactics, or was it an extortion attempt? I don't know.

    Further specific info can be provided on request. My site is Bitsum Technologies, http://www.bitsum.com (hopefully still green, though who knows now that I've dared criticize their sales practices). The contact's name is [withheld in case she is somehow innocent]. I can supply it to law enforcement though, should they choose to investigate. I really believe if you connect the dots, it is hard to conclude it is anything but a very odd coincidence OR old-fashioned extortion in the digital age. I can't say which, only the authorities can.

    These puzzle pieces just fit together too well... I don't know though, and would like independent analysis.

    Thank you for reading.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2011
  4. jcollake

    jcollake Registered Member

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    And written about here: http://bitsum.blogspot.com/ .. I will revise once I've calmed down. It is just an adrenaline rush when it all 'comes together' and you realize what just happened. I knew the timing was suspicious, as I'd had NO other negative reviews since that first incident (and that negative reviewer recanted, he misinterpreted my response). But when I saw the first strange negative review came right after my reply... Well, that sent up red flags. This woman also seemed very worried about what Intel might do and change. This was one of the reasons I had to 'buy now', lol. Of course, they had a reason to buy today, every day.
     
  5. PJC

    PJC Very Frequent Poster

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    Why do you use SiteAdvisor?
    WOT is much more reliable.
     
  6. jcollake

    jcollake Registered Member

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    I do. Sadly, not everyone else in the world does.
     
  7. jcollake

    jcollake Registered Member

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    They removed bitsum.com, then restored it.. unsure what they are doing. I did give them notice i would be contacting the authorities. Destruction of evidence is a felony, so I assume they won't do that once their legal team advises them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2011
  8. Daveski17

    Daveski17 Registered Member

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    I second that. Plus the WOT extension itself is far faster & more reliable on all of the browsers I have used it on. The Chrome SA extension was always sluggish I thought. SA also 'green lights' sites that I would think were not so safe or possible rogues. I used SA when I ran McAfee as an AV. Because it only worked with Firefox & IE I had quite a time to compare it with WOT (which I also used on Chrome). SA isn't bad, but I would recommend WOT above it any day.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2011
  9. jcollake

    jcollake Registered Member

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    While I agree, WOT is GREAT -- What I am talking about is potential criminal extortion and a direct link between their highest posting 'reviewer' bot and their 'site certificate' sales people.... Nobody has any comment on that? Please read the rest of the bullet points. I am a site owner, I wouldn't use SiteAdvisor myself in a million years.
     
  10. m00nbl00d

    m00nbl00d Registered Member

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    But, wouldn't the same apply to SiteAdvisor? Not everyone in the world uses it. ;)
     
  11. jcollake

    jcollake Registered Member

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    EVERYONE who searches Yahoo uses it
    EVERYONE who has Mcafee installed (or comes with their PC uses it)
    EVERYONE who uses AOL uses it (I think)
    EVERYONE who has downloaded any of any many apps that have the SiteAdvisor toolbar bundled in, uses it.

    This argument where 'Oh, it doesn't matter' is either legal spin from McAfee, or something. There is no argument where you can say it doesn't matter if tens or hundreds of miliions of customers get a big warning when they visit your site.

    And what is this argument? If not everyone uses SiteAdvisor, then they can practice illegal business practices and/or bad site ratings? You understand they called me up for thousands of dollars, then (and only then) their top-rated reviewer bot posted a non-specific malicious review of my site?
     
  12. m00nbl00d

    m00nbl00d Registered Member

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    The best thing you could, IMO, is to show at your website what is going on. But, don't simply and directly "attack" McAfee. Show evidences to your visitors that, in fact, your website is clean.

    You can point them out to services like -www.urlvoid.com , -http://linkscanner.explabs.com/linkscanner/default.aspx
     
  13. jcollake

    jcollake Registered Member

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    Updated above -- to point again to the ISSUE at hand:

    You understand they called me up for thousands of dollars, then (and only then) their top-rated reviewer bot posted a non-specific malicious review of my site? My site remains GREEN because there is NO THREAT, but this bot that has now made over 2 million reviews goes and says there is as a 'warning shot' or something. You would understand more if you got the strong sales pitch.
     
  14. jcollake

    jcollake Registered Member

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    They, themselves, rate my site as Clean. So does Web of Trust. It was a bot that make a bad review. The entire site rating did NOT change.

    Further, they have the burden of proof since they are making the accusation. I am defending myself against an anonymous, unspecific attack made by their top rated bot. It didn't say where malware was, or anything like that.. because there is none.

    Hey, If I said there was malware on YOUR site.. then you're reaction is the same?

    Does nobody READ what I wrote?

    Bitsum.com - CLEAN on Web of Trust
    Bitsum.com - CLEAN on SiteAdvisor (my issue is their top rated bot trying to make my unclean with no specific evidence given.. oh, immediately after I turned down their latest sales proposal)
     
  15. Daveski17

    Daveski17 Registered Member

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    Yes, I understood the implications. To be honest I am not sure what to say, nothing surprises me any more with big corporations. It does seem like extortion.
     
  16. m00nbl00d

    m00nbl00d Registered Member

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    Couldn't I just go around and say:

    EVERYONE who doesn't search Yahoo doesn't use it?
    EVERYONE who does not have McAfee installed doesn't use it?
    EVERYONE who hasn't download any application bundled with this toolbar, doesn't use it?

    There are always two sides of the same story. You make it sound like you have no other way than buying the certificate; like you're bound to the doom of SiteAdvisor, or something like that.

    Rather than complaining in a place where won't get you nowhere, make your voice be heard, using proper channels, one being your website. That's my humble opinion.
     
  17. jcollake

    jcollake Registered Member

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    I'm sorry, please no more replies... nobody is reading what I'm writing. I will let the FBI handle the potential extortion.

    My rating continues to be GREEN on BOTH SiteAdvisor and Web of Trust. That is because there is no threat.

    Yes, I do feel I can attack an anonymous top-ranked, highest-posting bot that says my site has malware with no mention of where or what -- just a generic text. There is no malware.

    Scan it yourself. But the point is EXTORTIONISTIC business practices.
     
  18. jcollake

    jcollake Registered Member

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    Do have the thousands of dollars it cost for a cert each year? So small businesses can't operate? Paying McAfee is now a cost of doing business? I am FORCED to buy a certificate, or ELSE? Is that what you just said?

    Or I am supposed to 'convince' all these Site Advisor users (who never make it to my site) that Site Advisor is wrong? Ha!

    If they called you up with high pressure sales tactics asking for thousands of dollars, then the next day some anonymous bot ranks your site RED.. you have no complaints? Well then you must work for them ;o.
     
  19. m00nbl00d

    m00nbl00d Registered Member

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    -edit-

    OK. This is what you're talking about:

    -http://www.siteadvisor.com/sites/bitsum.com

    It clearly shows that McAfee, themselves, via SiteAdvisor, has found no problems with it.

    According to the community of users, 17* say it's clean, 1 that unsolicited e-mail is sent and 1 other that it contains adware, spyware or virus.

    What bot are you talking about? What top reviewer? The way I understand it, SiteAdvisor, itself, reports the site has GREEN.

    If some user has no idea on how to rate a website... well... that's another thing, and perhaps is your right to ask McAfee to verify it or not?

    Just my opinion.

    -edit-

    * So what top reviewer is that? The bigger % of community users report it GREEN as well. Not red.

    My guess is that McAfee is just trying to make business... by contacting owners of websites they or users add to be rated.

    There's no illegality in this, AFAIK. It's up to you to want it or not. You keep telling them you don't have enough money. Say you DON'T want it, and perhaps they won't get back at you anymore?

    I get the same from phone companies. If I don't say NO, they will keep on trying.
     
  20. jcollake

    jcollake Registered Member

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    THIS site reviewer - http://user.siteadvisor.com/forums/member.php?u=19138 - It is their top reviewer in posts, over 2 million individual site reviews to date. Apparently they endorse these bots going around make accusations, else they'd shut them down. And don't tell me that is a person. This bot comes and reviews my site the day after I turn down their proposal. It didn't change my rating, thankfully. So, you may be right that Site Advisor's own algorithm makes the final determination, which is why my SITE is still GREEN.

    Doesn't anyone understand? I guess you'd have to be in business for yourself, trying to feed your family, to understand the consequences of actions like this. And, No, as much as Mcafee would like -- I am NOT paying them thousands of dollars a year as a 'right to do business'.

    That 1 that says unsolicited email was sent was later RECANTED BTW... It was a misunderstanding. I essentially have ALL POSITIVE reviews, except one BOT that made its non-specific negative malware accusation the day after I turned down their sales pitch.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2011
  21. jcollake

    jcollake Registered Member

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    Thank GOD someone understands. I was starting to think I was in the Twilight Zone.
     
  22. m00nbl00d

    m00nbl00d Registered Member

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    Maybe I'm not understanding, but there's contradiction in what you say.

    1.) McAfee SiteAdvisor does not rate your site red. It rates it GREEN. As you mentioned.

    2.) Why would McAfee have two separate bots (programs): one for crawling websites for malicious content and one to add comments to contradict what the other one deems to be safe? Makes any sense?

    If you don't agree with what that user, or bot as you call it, then ask McAfee to review your website and to remove the comments regarding non-existing threats.

    That's what I'd do. Sorry, I don't know what else to say. That's what I'd do.

    Regarding their e-mail, they're just trying to make a business with the domains that get rated. Nothing illegal.
     
  23. jcollake

    jcollake Registered Member

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    You don't find it strange a 'bot' comes and fires a 'warning shot' that could have made a lesser known site go RED (potentially, undetermined on that) the day after I turn down their sales pitch?

    Doesn't it bother you they let bots rate sites at all? Yes, this is a bot. No human does 1000+ reviews per day, all the same text. 2 million and counting site reviews. That is a BOT. And it has been there since 2006, so don't tell me they haven't noticed it. It is #1 in their reviewer rankings page. It is shown right there...

    So, no it makes little sense to me, unless maybe a band of salespeople there are using this bot as a means to extort businesses by firing a warning shot (or a crippling shot in some cases).
     
  24. m00nbl00d

    m00nbl00d Registered Member

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    I'm just finding it odd; it's the first time such situation comes to light. I've never seen any other website owner making such claims - extortion.

    As I suggested, contact with McAfee and ask them to review the website for threats. If they say they find none, then ask them to remove the comment(s) by the bot/user, because the comment(s) are misleading your possible visitors.

    Now, if they don't do that... then something is wrong, and I agree this sounds off.

    But, that would be my first move.

    -edit-

    If they say they do find threats on your website, ask them for real evidence.
     
  25. Daveski17

    Daveski17 Registered Member

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    I think this is probably what indeed is happening. The sad fact is that some people would be so scared of a negative review, or the like, they would pay the spondoolies (£££)!

    I'm glad you have stood your ground.
     
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