Daily Archives: August 1st, 2010

They are out to get our web sites

Click to enlarge

The other day the Pleated Jeans blog was featured on WordPress’Freshly Pressed page. (Woot for them! They’ve gone someplace I’ve never been.) The post was one about cats entitled “Tweets From My Cat.” Obviously I went to take a look!

DANGER WILL ROBINSON! I received an alert in my browser that the web site was “suspicious.” You can see the ominous warning I received in the screen shot shown here.

What in the world was going on?

A feature advertising itself as “Check Point” was telling me the web site was suspicious. I clicked “read more” and was advised to “avoid entering sensitive data.” Mind you, not once did the Pleated Jeans blog ever ask me for any “sensitive data.”

Now this post really has nothing to do with the Pleated Jeans but I think that site got a really bum rap from this safety “feature” on my home computer. Pleated Jeans is a WordPress blog, just like mine, but it has its own domain name. So my security program considers it a different “web site” than WordPress.com (which is where my blog lives).

The “information” for pleated-jeanes.com from my security program went on to say:

  • Site is not a known phishing or spyware distributor
  • Site was first registered on 05/08/10 (less than 3 month) (sic)
  • Site is located in United States, North America

The alert window went on to say that I could get “immunity” from “this and other questionable sites.”

Yikes! Who’s Wheaties did Pleated Jeans piss on, anyway?

It turns out that this “Check Point” alert came from my installation of ZoneAlarm Free Firewall. A firewall is software (in this case) that allows you to specify what software on your computer can access the internet. (Firewalls can also be a physical device but that’s so hardcore I’ve never even seen one.) If a strange program tries to get on the net, the firewall will alert you and you can prevent the attempt if you wish. ZoneAlarm is a really cool program and I’ve always had it on my computers for years.

Here’s how a firewall typically works. You install a program like Microsoft Word. At some point during the installation your firewall will throw an alert and say, “A program identifying itself as Microsoft Word is attempting to access the internet. ALLOW or DENY?” Since you just happen to be installed that very same program it’s a good bet the attempt is legit. So you go ahead and click ALLOW.

On the other hand if you aren’t installing anything or doing anything out of the ordinary, you might see an attempt to access your computer. Since you don’t know who or what it is you can click DENY. (If it turned out to be something important you can always go back and change your mind once you know it is safe.)

This “Check Point” alert, though, is some kind of new thing that comes with ZoneAlarm these days. Apparently it works through me browser to alert users of “suspicious” web sites. What was the crime in this case? As far as I can tell absolutely nothing except for the fact that the Pleated Jeans domain name is less than three months old. That’s it!

What a bunch of bullshit. For having a domain name less than three months old Check Point is willing to throw the site under the bus and tell its users that the site is “suspicious.”

After years in ecommerce I can tell you one thing with a high degree of certainty. When non-savvy users see warnings like these they quickly void their bowels. They freak, hit the back button, close their browser and are too fearful to proceed. They freeze in their tracks and call their I.T. guy. The one thing they will not do is read the site and/or buy the product. They do this out of fear because they aren’t computer knowledgeable enough to know if the warning really means anything or not so they err on the side of caution.

Pleated Jeans had no history of doing anything bad, like distributing malware, spyware, phishing or anything else. They were simply “new.” I found myself wondering how many people saw the alert and exited without bothering to click the “read more” link and find out it was all a bunch of hooey about the age of the domain name? I’ll bet a lot of people panicked and fled. Too bad, because the post entitled “Tweets From My Cat” was funny as hell!

I’m glad I didn’t avoid such an excellent post simply because some lame feature was “warning” me their domain name was less than three months old!!