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AlphaCentauri
Level 10

Why does site advisor give a green rating to software a software piracy site?

buy-softwareshop.ru is selling pirated copies of software, including McAfee's own VirusScan for Mac:

http://buy-softwareshop.ru/item/2082-McAfee-VirusScan-for-Mac.html

In addition, it is being spammed from computers infected with the bobax and cutwail spam botnets. The spam redirects to the website by advertsing urls that are files inserted on innocent trojan infected websites:

hxxp://stiletto-uk.com/bl.html?Mel=3DTools
hxxp://mec-hayastan.ru/jigunf.html?slammed=3DCenter

There has been a review posted on the SiteAdvisor webpage since June pointing out that it is a software piracy site.

How did this site get a green rating from McAfee?

Edit - Links to 2 of the 3 websites removed. One returns a 404, the other has some Russian text which translates as "An error has occurred. Unfortunately, this page is not available to you: may have been changed its address or it was removed. Please use the search."

Message was edited by: Hayton on 23/01/11 11:04:12 GMT
10 Replies
Dinz
Level 16

Re: Why does site advisor give a green rating to software a software piracy site?

Hi ,

Site Advisor - site ratings are based on tests conducted by McAfee using a collection of computers that look for all kinds of threatsWe encourage you to leave comments about a Web site's safety by volunteering to become a SiteAdvisor reviewer. You can sign up to become a reviewer at http://user.siteadvisor.com/forums/register.php?do=register&agree=1.

If you already are a reviewer, please leave your feedback on the same & your comments will appear on the report page for any site that you review, and your feedback will affect the site's overall safety rating.

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AlphaCentauri
Level 10

Re: Why does site advisor give a green rating to software a software piracy site?

Hi, thanks for answering. But I have left a review.

I am a regular reviewer at SiteAdvisor. Despite the recent purging of old reviews, I've still got a post count of over 50,000 reviews there. The three reviewers who have posted for that particular piracy site are in the top ten for reputation among all reviewers, and one of my colleagues left his review at http://www.siteadvisor.com/sites/buy-softwareshop.ru/  in June 2010. Reviewer ratings and comments do not affect McAfee's rating.

But something needs to affect it. The site is still alive and McAfee is still giving it a green rating. And unless a user is familiar with McAfee's new website layout for SiteAdvisor, he/she is not even going to realize there are any user comments posted. A visitor must click the link to open them -- they are now hidden when you first visit the review page. All you see is the big green check mark.

Message was edited by: AlphaCentauri on 1/21/11 5:03:40 AM GMT-05:00
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Benzyl
Level 7

Re: Why does site advisor give a green rating to software a software piracy site?

I can't think of any repeat offender sites, many of which have page after page of red reviews relating clear and present dangers, that have had their status changed by reviewer input and I've been submitting for over four years now. If it's an automated process it's broken and if it's based on checking by McAfee agents they either move with glacial speed or come round with a periodicity that would make Halley's Comet look like a frequent flyer. On the SiteAdvisor Reviewer Central page the Sites on the Brink listing hasn't changed in over a year. Maybe something as simple as a solid page of red for automatic re-rating could be put in place as a stopgap while some more organised business practice is put in place?

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Kas
Level 7

Re: Why does site advisor give a green rating to software a software piracy site?

Nodus is an Experienced Reviewer (9/9) and he Posted a review on that same site in question on June 11th 2010 at 09:03:48 AM and his review didn't change it from green. Neither did pharmalert's which he is another highly rated Experienced Reviewer and he also reviewed the site before this thread was made. How many reviews saying the site is red with proof and explanations of why before it changes from green then?

How often do these sites get reviewed? Is there a way to request an updated review of the site by SiteAdvisor? Someone who will look at the reviews and not just the site?

Ratings are definitely not influenced by reviews unless the site is re-evaluated again by SiteAdvisor. Is it?

Because of the slow update on ratings of sites over the last few months I have lost faith in the ratings through McAfee SiteAdvisor and installed WOT (which even rates the site in question as a solid RED) which seems more up to date with visable reviews to keep me safe.


Message was edited by: Kas on 1/22/11 4:52:47 AM CST
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Hayton
Level 18

Re: Why does site advisor give a green rating to software a software piracy site?

If you are wondering why site reviews seem to have less impact on a site's rating than they perhaps should, there is a McAfee White Paper all about SiteAdvisor. It's long, and in parts rather technical, but it tells you all you need to know about the way sites are rated.

It can be found here, and you may need to fill in an online request form to access it.

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Nodus
Level 7

Re: Why does site advisor give a green rating to software a software piracy site?

Well, of course I wouldn't say that our reviews, even as experienced reviewers, should be the sole criterion for McAfee to decide what kind of a rating a site should have. Of course they should scrutinize each site carefully themselves, using whatever methods they need to use. But the user reviews, especially when they differ from the McAfee rating, should at least have the impact that the sites would be looked at again in order to judge whether there's a need to change the rating.

The case AlphaCentauri brought out here is sadly only one of God knows how many similar cases where the green rating has got stuck there for many months, or even permanently, although several users have already rated the sites red. It simply seems the reviews have absolutely no impact at all.

And this particular software piracy site is by far not the only one of this particular brand. There are literally thousands of complete clones, and even in the last few days I have personally reviewed several hundreds of fresh ones. Almost all of them were still rated grey, and if McAfee will use the same criteria as in our example case when finally rating those, will they be rated green, too? Well, I have seen these sites been rated red as well, and this is what really makes me wonder: how can complete clone sites be rated differently at a different point of time? Piracy is piracy is piracy, as well today as last June.

As Benzyl wrote, the "Sites on the Brink" listing has not been updated, but I think it's more like for two years already. It's clearly not in use at all, which is one more indication of user reviews not taken into account on the whole.

Of course the main problem here is that as such SiteAdvisor is practically leading people astray. People don't need to get burned many times like that before they abandon the whole thing as untrustworthy. The ratings can naturally never be 100% accurate, but nevertheless I see a lot of room for improvement there.

Message was edited by: Nodus on 1/22/11 10:31:04 PM EET
Hayton
Level 18

Re: Why does site advisor give a green rating to software a software piracy site?

I started out here in a small way, writing individual reviews for SiteAdvisor pages, and then began to look at the wider picture. SiteAdvisor works well, perhaps 99 per cent of the time. It's the remaining one per cent of cases which show up the shortcomings in the system. There is plenty of room for improvement, but I'm on the outside of the system looking in, just as you are, and we have precious little leverage over the McAfee decision-making process. McAfee is making a few changes to SiteAdvisor, I think that's happening, but they all seem to be piecemeal and un-coordinated. Possibly something I heard a while back lies behind this lack of observable change, namely that SiteAdvisor is due for a major overhaul at some point in the near (or maybe not so near) future.

Whatever the reason for it, the fact is that too many people feel they are being let down by McAfee when they have a problem with SiteAdvisor. Site ratings are a case in point. Green sites that should be red, red or yellow sites where the site owners can't get an explanation for the rating, ratings disputes which drag on for a whole year without a resolution, documentation which is unhelpful and sometimes out of date - the system may not be broken but it's creaking, and definitely needs attention.

I can see some things which would help to improve the current unsatisfactory situation, and I'll do what I can to let people in McAfee know what could be done; but there's no guarantee that anything I suggest will be implemented. If they wanted to hire me to sort it out from the inside I'd probably accept, since they're losing not just customers over this but goodwill and credibility.

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Nodus
Level 7

Re: Why does site advisor give a green rating to software a software piracy site?

Hayton wrote:

SiteAdvisor works well, perhaps 99 per cent of the time. It's the remaining one per cent of cases which show up the shortcomings in the system.

I just posted a bunch of reviews for some illegal pharmacy sites (using the bulk posting tool). Naturally I reviewed them all as scam, which they are. Out of curiosity, I went though the last 50 of my reviews to see how SiteAdvisor (or better, the TrustedSource web reputation analysis) is currently rating them. After doing that this old thread came into my mind.

99 percent, you say? Let's see.

Of those 50 sites, there were

- 11 not rated (i.e. gray) (22%)

- 17 rated yellow (34%)

- 22 rated green (44%)

Doesn't look convincing, does it. We are talking about some of the most dangerous criminals here, the ones selling fake drugs, which can be lethal if you are fooled to take them. Still, 44% of the domains in my semi-random sampling were tested by McAfee, but they "didn't find any significant problems". I'd like to know what's their definition of "significant", if this kind of a fraud doesn't deserve that label.

The 34% they got (semi)right is quite far from your 99%, don't you think. In its current condition SiteAdvisor is not only mostly useless, it can be deadly dangerous. Of course provided you trust it at all.

For reference, these were the criminal sites rated green:

allamelodee.com

miriamjessamine.com

annnorajulissa.com

isahelladayle.com

junelynna.com

josidanyette.com

ardisjlouise.com

jillyernestine.com

kateegerda.com

lacyedithe.com

lucyshirley.com

tessierobin.com

devoramarjy.com

gussiejoyce.com

midgemarj.com

liannehephzibah.com

dashaelva.com

blairetony.com

anitralinda.com

norenediannne.com

orallejolie.com

alamedatiphani.com

Here you can find more information of what they are about:

http://www.spamtrackers.eu/wiki/index.php/Category:Yambo_family

And if you'd like to check out yourself those last 50 domains I have reviewed, you can do it right here:

http://user.siteadvisor.com/forums/member.php?u=107161

Message was edited by: Nodus on 4/21/11 1:01:25 AM EEST
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Hayton
Level 18

Re: Why does site advisor give a green rating to software a software piracy site?

These sites are/were all involved in peddling dangerous and/or illegal fake pharmaceutical products, and so on purely moral, ethical, and legal grounds deserve(d) to be brought down immediately. I agree with you on that wholeheartedly.

I'm surprised that SiteAdvisor marked 44% of those sites as Green. Perhaps Green is the new Grey (Safe until declared Not Safe)? No, because 22% were grey and unrated. Green implies Tested.

That's rather disturbing. I wonder if the Reputation input to SiteAdvisor has been, not switched off exactly, but downrated?

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