I am all for helping users identify malicious websites. Tools such as Google Safe Browsing and Sucuri Labs come are very helpful. Then there are those who claim to be helpful but are nothing more than a scam aimed at skewing data and coercing you into buying their products.
I look after many websites. Looking after many websites requires a good set of tools to fulfil your daily tasks. Up until recently I didn’t have any issues with Norton Safe Web but it has come to my attention now as it has listed three sites I look after in the last 4 weeks. The sites contain no malware or any characteristics that would make it unsafe to use, however only Norton Safe Web has listed them as unsafe to use.
It all starts with an email from Symantec using the words “Dear Web site owner”. This is a problem as the words “Dear Something” are often used by spammers so already they are a suspected spammer. The second problem is that the email they send HTML only. Why is this important?
When you send HTML email, you have no guarantee that your message will be A) readable at all or B) visually legible to the recipient. With plain text email, you always have that guarantee, no matter what mail client the recipient is using. This is very sloppy work from a company who you would think has an adequate IT budget to deal with these things better.
Next when you follow their link to the report, this is what you see.
So here is says Computer Threats: 0, Identity Threats: 0, Annoyance factors: 0 and Total threats on this site: 0. OK, so why is it listed? Well we just won’t tell you, in fact we don’t even know why, but we will just list it as as unsafe. Very sloppy work indeed.
Then the page mis-reports where the site is actually hosted. In all three cases this page states that the sites are located in United States of America. There are hundreds of tools out there where you can lookup the GEO location of the IP address and it is clearly hosted in Australia. I think they didn’t know how to code this so they just simply use United States of America as a default. In any case its an example of poor and sloppy work.
Then there is “There are no Community Reviews“. OK, so what? Are we to assume that a site with no reviews is unsafe? Or are the “Symantec community” an elite club of users so only the sites that the community is aware of are trustworthy? All I can conclude from this is that Norton Safe Web cannot be trusted.
Norton Safe Web misreports, misrepresents and misguides users. Norton Safe Web is nothing more than a scam and should be classified as malware or ransomware.
Norton Safe Search
Then at the bottom of the page they instruct you to install one of their other products called Norton Safe Search before it’s too late.
Too late for what? This is another Symantec SCAM instructing you to do a drive by download of their Norton Safe Search addon and install it on your browser. What this addon does is highly intrusive and once installed it hijacks your browser settings. Among other things it forces your browser to to use search.norton.com and does not warn you that its about to make a number of changes. Their terms are confusing making sure that the normal person does not understanding the consequences of downloading and installing their addon.
Norton Safe Search is also likely to be harvesting your search data. You will never know because they are not transparent about this. The search page has sponsored ads and I suspect they are collecting and selling your data to the highest bidder.
In my opinion, Norton Safe Web and Norton Safe Search and the next Norton Safe should be avoided at all costs. They use words like “Your Privacy is Our Priority” but then produce careless processes and testing, sloppy coding. They should certainly not be trusted.