Hell hath no fury like an angry webmaster who hasn’t yet had her coffee.
A beloved client forwarded this to me this morning. It’s an email she received from the “security” firm SiteLock, a partner company of the popular website hosts HostGator.com and Bluehost.com.
Notice the wording: One or more of the domains you own has malware on it.
Fairly clear, right? One of her sites is infected with malware…it says so right in black and white. Bad news, but I’ve never been one to hit the panic button before it’s time.
I calmly go to HostGator’s tech support “Live Chat” to ask them about this. I paste the email into the box so the technical support rep can see what I’m contacting them about. I ask: Is this legitimate? What happens next?
Over the course of the conversation, I learn from the tech dude that SiteLock is their partner company. And I learn, in fact, there’s no evidence of malware. The site MIGHT be infected, he says, but no one really knows for sure. In order to truly find out, my client would need to purchase an expensive malware prevention package from SiteLock, so they can peek inside and see if there’s malware there. If there is, they’ll charge another fee to get rid of it.
I take a deep breath and count to ten: So…the email is a sales pitch, designed to frighten my client into purchasing a product? And the email makes a statement that’s patently untrue? I point it out to him again: One or more of the domains you own has malware on it. Why would they say such a thing if it weren’t true?
Hemming and hawing ensue.
My little dog came to sit next to me and put his head on my knee. You okay? You smell mad. Maybe a walk?
Why am I bothering to tell you this?
Well…aside from being angry about a concerted effort to drum up business by sending good people into a panic about their website? Good people who might not be terribly techie, or who may be busy…..gosh I don’t know….building their business? So instead of helping depressed people, doing reiki healing, selling their art, finishing their book, booking new coaching clients, they have to spend their life energy dealing with service provider scams—from the very people they are already paying every month to keep their website running. Infuriating.
Oops, there I go again. Sorry.
In short: Anyone whose website is hosted with the company HostGator.com, or with Bluehost.com, its partner company under the conglomerate parent company EIG, is likely to receive one of these emails soon, if you haven’t already. I wanted you all to know what this particular game was, so you can watch for it.
To all my clients: Please feel free to drop me an email or a PM if you receive one of these emails. I can be of help deciphering the scare-mongering. I promise to be calm, cool and collected again by then.
(Edited to add: See the comments below for some helpful comments made by others. Hosting is a personal decision, but for what it’s worth, I have shifted all of my sites to Siteground, some of the nicest and most customer-focused people I’ve met. This is a recent list of hosting companies owned by EIG, the parent company of Sitelock, Hostgator, and Bluehost—I would only suggest you avoid those if you don’t want to find yourself in the same boat again)