Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | September 30, 2010

Cybersecurity Program Doesn’t Heart O’Donnell; UPDATE

Here is an interesting fact.  Christine O’Donnell’s campaign website is being tagged by the McAfee security program as risky/unsafe.  McAfee users will be familiar with the red circle and white “x” that mark unsafe websites when they come up in an online search, and O’Donnell’s campaign site is tagged.

McAfee red tag of O'Donnell site

But investigate a little further, and you find that the McAfee site report itself – accessed by clicking on the red circle and white “x” – lists no actual problems detected with the site.  This is quite unusual.  Normally, an unsafe-site symbol means there has been at least one instance of malware, unwanted pop-ups, spam or other unsolicited email, etc, generated by visiting the site in question.  The screen-capture sequence below demonstrates the information from McAfee site reports on other unsafe websites.

BAD website

By contrast, the O’Donnell campaign website’s site report, when I visited it between 5:00 and 6:00 PM PDT on 29 September, had no entries for any of the McAfee problem categories.  Here is the screen capture:


Investigate further still, and you discover that four users – as of this writing – have posted user comments objecting to the McAfee tag.

Each user rates the site as “Good” (green with a check).  The comments in question read as follows:

I might add that WOT (Web Of Trust) is proving a much more reliable indicator of relative site safety than Site Advisor…and in this instance, marks the O’Donnell site as completely safe.

Posted at 09/29/2010-12:56:53 PM by dmanley, Reviewer , View profile [ Reputation score: 1 / 9 ]

I’d like to know why this site is red flagged since it contains no malware or or other exploits of any kind. If this is an example of McAfee’s Site Advisior’s reliability factor I have to question either it’s effectiveness or it’s provider’s political tilt. Preposterous

Posted at 09/29/2010-12:49:35 PM by dmanley, Reviewer , View profile [ Reputation score: 1 / 9 ]

There is nothing wrong with Christines site. I’ve donated several times without problems. I’m wondering how much the establishemt party leaders are giving to McAfee,not that they would be taking a bribe.

Posted at 09/29/2010-12:43:10 PM by TimV, Reviewer , View profile [ Reputation score: 1 / 9 ]

I have been visiting Christine’s site for weeks and no problems. Something stinks to high heavens about this “Warning.” This is a critical election and Candidate O’Donnell uses her site as a primary means for donations. Something like this rating (for which McAfee provides no details) is very suspicious considering the extremely high visibility of this race! I have emailed McAfee and the O’Donnell campaign about this. Oh, and I emailed Rush Limbaugh also – hope he will talk about it! Norton and AVG do not flag her site as potentially dangerous, just McAfee! Considering what is at stake, I hope this issue gets resolved and fast!

Posted at 09/29/2010-09:04:25 AM by JaguarXKE, Reviewer , View profile [ Reputation score: 1 / 9 ]

When a site is tagged as unsafe, the red-and-white symbol automatically discourages many people from clicking on it.  Anyone who uses McAfee (or one of the other security programs) is familiar with the reflexive thought process.  As a blogger and intensive online researcher, I check out the McAfee ratings often, because I am regularly confronted with a red-tagged site that looks like I really need to view its content.  So I’ve become accustomed to bringing up the site reports to see how bad the “bad” site truly is.

The O’Donnell site is the first one on which I’ve ever pulled up the McAfee site report and found no listing of problematic activity in any category.  But I’m betting a lot of people will simply accept the McAfee red tag as “another indictment” of O’Donnell – as evidence that she can’t even run a safe campaign website, and is therefore confirmed as either malevolent or incompetent.

I’ve been ambivalent about O’Donnell’s statement today that she did not set up the LinkedIn profile that seemed to misrepresent her connections with Oxford and the Claremont Institutes.  I was ambivalent before I tested the McAfee site tag, and I’m ambivalent now.  But I would give more credence now than I would have 3-4 hours ago to the possibility that the LinkedIn profile was set up maliciously and/or without O’Donnell’s knowledge.  Creating oblique drive-by indictments through web manipulation is too easy to do.

UPDATE:  A correspondent alerted me that the O’Donnell campaign site is now being tagged as “safe” (green check) by McAfee.  I verified that just now.  Nothing had changed in the site report except that a fifth user had contributed a “Good” rating for the site and asked why it was tagged unsafe by McAfee.  Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), I’ve never seen a site go from red to green without anything changing in the site report.

Cross-posted at Hot Air.



  1. As a Roman Catholic who believes that the Roman Catholic Church needs married men, single men, married women, and single women in substantive leadership roles, I frequently look into web sites that talk about women priests in both Protestant denominations and potentially in the Roman Catholic Church. I’ve gotten used to the bad colored circles on quite a few of these sites which I assume come from some group that has a theoretical axe against said sites theological position. Sometimes after visiting such a site a few times, I see that the circle finally changes to a better “shade of Pale”,(like Obama I’m now quoting 60’s songs). There are a lot of jerks in the Roman Catholic communities that try to suppress honest debate. I guess this goes on in the political community also.

  2. It makes me want to go to Christine’s site and have unprotected text.

    • not even if you go alone!

  3. I don’t consider the linked profile a voting issue. Voting issues are job creation, government size & spending & repudiation of Obama health legislation. Voters shouldn’t waste time and become distracted by opponents claims against conservative women candidates.

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