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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Big Brother - another good one

After ATT (see my previous post), here is a new feature, from McAfee this time, to protect me from myself: SiteAdvisor.

So I have McAfee Total Protection, and the latest update (I assume that this is where it comes from) was installed automatically recently. And then I discovered when reading my own email that because I have the url of my blog in my signature I am entitled to a big red square box telling me that "this message includes a link that will lead you to a site with potential phishing".
Very friendly - I can imagine the effect this will have on the people I communicate with. My friends will smile, but I am not sure what the rest of my correspondents will think.

There is no phishing scheme on my blog, the only subscription widget is generated from Vertical Response which I specifically installed because I want users to feel comfortable that I am not going to abuse their email information. And then there are a few widgets from known services, but nothing custom or homemade that could be assimilated to hacking.
But somebody somewhere decided that I was guilty until I prove myself innocent, when I thought the normal was the opposite. I guess security software is different, and we are all hackers out there if we are bloggers.
I am a good citizen, and I try to follow process, so I went and registered on the SiteAdvisor website to claim my innocence. But there also, there is one more roadblock: I have to upload a file on my site to prove that I own it and that I am legit. The problem: I am using Blogger, a service provided by a small company called Google, and I do not have access to the service to upload whatever file I want. So now I have to submit a request into a big queue, and wait for somebody to pick it up and take a look, and then I have to pray that they will agree that my blog is ok. Hopefully the content is not too subversive, and I fit within whatever criteria they have that I can be cleared.

If you have any doubt that the world is a very messed up place, I think this is another good example. Technology which should be making our life better is just creating more constraints on everything we do. I do not really feel like I own my computer anymore: my brand new computer comes with pre-installed junk programs (marketing teasers) that I have to remove if I do not want the clutter, I have automatic updates because I get problems if I don't, and I get problems if I do, just different ones.

Because of all this, I make sure I stick to Open Source whenever I can. At least with open source, I get what I want and nobody can claim control of what I get to the point when it becomes obnoxious. It may not always be as cool or as fancy, but the protection from any corporate abuse is a huge feature for me...

>>> Update >>> the good news is that I have been cleared. The bad news is that people who are getting the message should re-install SiteAdvisor. So to anybody who is still using the wrong version I will be presented like a hacker unless they uninstall SiteAdvisor and Re-install (which would be assuming they care enough about me or the issue to go through this). Not as much comfort as what I was hoping for...
McAfee SiteAdvisor Support
dateWed, Feb 4, 2009 at 12:45 PM
subjectRe: "Open Business" blog erroneously rated as potentially dangerous


After some investigation, we have discovered that this error was related to a bug in an earlier version of the SiteAdvisor program, which has now been fixed.

Anyone who sees this error should uninstall SiteAdvisor, and then reinstall it from

Please write back to me if this error is still occurring after these instructions have been followed.


Customer Support
McAfee SiteAdvisor

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