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There are a number of services that will scan a website for vulnerabilities and allow the display of a "trustmark" image if the site passes their tests. This allegedly increases the level of trust a potential client feel toward the website and therefore makes them more likely to complete a purchase. McAfee claims it has studies which show significant increases in sales. Should I take their word for it? What sort of increase should I really expect, if any? Are these types of services worth the prices they charge?

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4 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I agree and disagree with Andreas' answer. Yes, it totally depends on your userbase.

But my grandma sure as hell doesn't care if her favourite site has been 'secured' by McAfee. She'd want to know what a coffee company has to do with her website. And as a sysadmin I also know that those certifications are bogus to a certain extent.

However, I also webmaster a site that deals with lawyers and the storage of legal documents, where they have to enter confidential information. When it comes to this, as many stamps and seals you can get that are appropriate may help your clientelle trust you. Or so we thought. In one update I forgot to re-instate the seals (we had Thawte ones) and you wanna know how much difference it made to our sales? None. Zip. Zilch. So much so that we've since gone and ditched all the seals on our site and bought $10 SSL certificates rather than the $500 ones that come with certification seals.

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+1 Awesome answer. I had no idea how bogus most of the certificate market was (because I've never needed to use them) until I started reading more about it on this site. –  Evan Plaice Jul 9 '10 at 7:10
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It depends on your target users.

If most of your clients are your typical grandma then yes, having that certification will help a lot because it gives a (somewhat false, imo) sense of security.

But, if most of your clients are - let's say - programmers then it won't do any good, because we know how little that certification really means.

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In my opinion you could just do a nice looking hacker secure logo and it would probably do the same exact thing. It's nothing else than an image. That is unless you really want to pay 500$ for an image.

From my own experience, I have seen many website with those kind of sticker that have easy to find and easy to correct flaw. I wouldn't be surprise if those site were as vulnerable (or even more !) as the other website.

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This is speaking from my own experience (and perhaps I am VERY foolish because of this) but I tend to put way more trust in a website when it has lots of logos on it from TechCrunch, NYT, ZDnet, Time, etc. The following page on mint.com is an example of this. http://www.mint.com/product/awards/

I am not sure why this approach gives me more peace of mind than "Secured by McAfee" does, but it does.

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The difference with "Secured by McAfee" and awards from known and recognize website, is that you can't pay for an award and recognition. Anyone can buy up McAfee product even if your website content is horrible. –  HoLyVieR Jul 12 '10 at 19:33
    
+1 to both of you :) –  Jason Aug 14 '10 at 4:11
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