A company says Yahoo's new feature incorrectly flagged its Web site and was slow to respond.
The beta version of Yahoo's SearchScan security feature has come under fire for false positives and other mistakes.
is the result of a partnership between McAfee and Yahoo
to improve the security
of Web searches. The feature, powered by McAfee's SiteAdvisor, alerts users
when sites contain spam, spyware, adware or other malicious software that could
damage a PC.
However, since the beta was unveiled May 6, there have been some cases of
false positives. A URL mix-up by Yahoo seemed to label Google.com as a
malicious site. In another case, AnyCoupons, a Web site operated by 77Blue, was
classified as a spammer. Though both issues have been resolved, the latter left
a bad taste in the mouth of 77Blue CEO David
Lewis, who complained that Yahoo and McAfee were slow to fix the problem.
According to Lewis, he discovered the problem the week of May 5 after
getting a call saying 77Blue's paid-inclusion campaign had been taken offline
by Yahoo because of the rating. After contacting Yahoo, he said he was told
that only McAfee could address the issue by changing the ratings.
The rating was based on McAfee's finding that
it had received several spam e-mails in a week
October 2007 after entering an e-mail address on the AnyCoupons site. Lewis claimed AnyCoupons
did not send the e-mails or sell the e-mail address provided by McAfee.
He said AnyCoupons only takes an e-mail address and a password from members
when they register, and the e-mails that came back to the McAfee inbox had
subject lines that contained the word 'SiteAdvisor' in them.
"We don't have any type of form on our site that somebody could have
accessed, we haven't had any security breach that we know of, [so] there's no
way it could have happened," Lewis said.
"Fortunately I write at a well-read blog ... Because I wrote there,
McAfee decided to re-test on Monday, [and] changed us from a red alert to a
yellow alert," he said. "Yesterday morning, Yahoo said that they saw
that McAfee had changed the rating to be yellow, but Yahoo's escalation
procedure would take one month before they would remove the alert and before
they would put us back into paid inclusion."
Yahoo relented, however, and the alert had disappeared by May 15.
Priyank Garg, director of product management for Yahoo Search, said one of
the reasons the company launched the feature in beta was because it was not
sure it had caught all the issues.
"I think we've done a lot of work to make sure it adds value to the
user experience right off the bat," Garg said.
Site owners can contact Yahoo or McAfee if they believe a site has been
given an erroneous rating. By hovering over the pop-up bubble when there's an
alert, the user can click on a link for site owner support, he said.
Garg would not discuss how much time it would take to
address retesting issues raised by site owners.