Mike's Place

My blog, my opinions. If you're easily offended, leave now.

SiteLock – Scam?

I was a HostGator customer for many years – since 2005!  Before you start with “they are the worst…”, I never had a major issue with them.  I’ve had multiple sites hosted with them on one very affordable account.  The minor issues I had were fixed quickly and for a couple years now I have not needed any “support required” requests.  For me, at least, they have been reliable and a decent hosting solution.

Until they partnered with SiteLock.  Apparently, I purchased this “service” from HostGator in 2013.  I’m going to look into this purchase later or maybe it was included with my HostGator account.  Just recently, I was contacted by SiteLock about malware on two of my domains.  Imagine the horror!  You don’t know anything about websites, servers or even the internet and you receive a notice:

We are reaching out to you because one or more of the domains you own has malware on it and this issue needs to be resolved.  
As your website security provider you Do Not have the appropriate level of security to remedy/ remove and prevent these issues.

I’ve attempted to leave a message or left a message on the number in our records as well. Contact me immediately and directly. We are able to assist you

Now they are calling my cell phone.

The problem for them is, I have access to the files on my HostGator server and I know websites and the internet.  After some research, I found that SiteLock uses scare tactics to get unsuspecting subscribers to pay them (upwards of $100+) to fix their website for them.

Many of their Facebook followers post messages like “thank you so much for fixing my website”, “You guys are the best!  They got my website reactivated after they cleaned it!”

Pay up, suckers!  Or, did they do it for free out of the goodness of their hearts?

I checked one of my domains that had this infestation of malware that was poised to end the world and destroy even HostGator.  Hostgator, a massive complex of buildings filled with enormous arrays of hardware and software and professionals working around the clock.

If I don’t contact SiteLock and have them fix this immediately, the world and internet, as we know it, will cease to exist.  Or worse, SiteLock will tell HostGator to deactivate my account and shut me down because my account will harm HostGator’s servers and the internet.

On this particular domain was ONE (1) html file that told visitors that the domain was for sale, contact me.  Simple html code, no hidden agenda or anything.

I’ll save the $100.

Through more research, I found sites that offer FREE website checks.  With nothing to lose and before the end of the world, I entered my website domain on Sucuri.  According to Sucuri, my main domain was clean.  However, it did show the other domain, which contained only the html file, was blocked by Norton Safe Web.  The other 9 blocking sites considered the domain clean.  There was no malware detected.

In SiteLock’s defense, it is not too uncommon for “internet security” providers to prey on unassuming victims.  They hope enough people will believe the hype and authority by using phrases like “you Do Not have the appropriate level of security” (but THEY do, of course), and “your account WILL be deactivated!”.

This tactic reminds me of the crap I keep receiving in the mail (regular USPS mail).  On the outside “OPEN AT ONCE!  LEGAL NOTICE ENCLOSED!”.  In a frantic frenzy, I open the envelope as carefully as possible so as not to damage the legal notice inside.  My eyes gaze at the large bold-type heading: “Car Sale In Your Area Soon!”  Another one boldly states on the outside “IMPORTANT! Your Car Warranty Has Expired! Open At ONCE!”.  I open this one immediately and, in a cold sweat with a horrified look on my face, read “Purchase our extended warranty plan for $(amount) now!”.  Sometimes I wish the USPS would accept s**t (defecation, “number 2”) in an envelope since I would love to mail these companies what I “think” of their notices.

I feel sorry for these blood suckers who do this for low pay and hope the gullible, naive, recipient  falls for it so they can get a commission off of this scam.  I blame the companies.  I blame their “partner” companies, like HostGator.  SiteLock gains its followers through partner companies, and I’m sure other means.  We depend on the partners, like HostGator, to protect us, their customer, from harmful 3rd parties.  At the beginning, perhaps on paper, it would look like SiteLock can benefit their partners and their partner’s clients/customers by providing a valuable service – site protection against hackers/malware.  But, when a 3rd party begins using tactics as described here and the partnership continues, it doesn’t help the reputation or “pitch” of HostGator or other partners who involve SiteLock as a feature they offer.  Scamming your customer should not be considered a selling point.

After checking further in my Control Panel on HostGator, none of my websites have SiteLock enabled.  So this appears to be a good time to gain subscribers using the garbage I posted above.  For all I know, this company could have reported my one-file website, making it on the naughty banned list.  Banking on the shock and horror of the impending doom, I, the customer, would immediately hand over my credit card information, next of kin, life insurance policy and take out a loan in ANY amount…just to keep from being banned from the internet for life.

Instead, I think it would be easier to give up HostGator, which I have used since 2005.  Their relationship with SiteLock says a lot about them, unfortunately.