Small Business Site Shut Down, Owner Confused

SAN FRANCISCO - Jocelyn Rose’s dog, Tuco, is the inspiration behind Boo Boo’s Best, her dog treat company. Rose counts on her e-commerce website to drive business.

"Anyone I approach, they always use the website for reference. It’s the first place they go to learn about the product, to learn about the company,” Rose said.

But recently, Rose's website was taken down. A message on the site read "temporarily unavailable." She didn’t know how or why it happened, but she did know it would hurt business.

"It means we don’t get sales, so I don’t make money," Rose said.

Scrambling to get her site back up, Rose called Bluehost, her hosting site, and was connected to SiteLock, a website security company.

Rose said SiteLock referenced an email it had sent her - that it detected malware on her site. Rose recalled the email, but had dismissed it as spam. After all, she didn’t do business with SiteLock; she’d never even heard of the company.

Still, Rose said SiteLock told her she had to pay upwards of $120 a month to fix the malware and get her site up and running again.

"That’s a lot of money," Rose said. "Especially for someone like me. I’m a small business, I’m just starting and trying. That’s a big chunk of money."

Confused and frustrated, Rose asked NBC Bay Area Responds to help.

Bluehost explained that SiteLock is a security partner, and it did in fact find malware on Rose’s site. So it took down the site so the malware wouldn’t spread to other websites hosted by Bluehost.

Bluehost acknowledged that the SiteLock email could be perceived as spam, so it’s working to evolve its email communications.

And eager to help out Rose, Bluehost jumped in and fixed her site for free. Boo Boo’s Best is back in business.

"I must say it was very fast," Rose said. "It’s fantastic. I’m thrilled!"

In a statement, Bluehost said its "priority is to offer premier web services that protect both our customers and network."

SiteLock said it’s already modified its email so its relationship to Bluehost is clear.

And both companies recommend that all small business owners, including Rose, invest in security to protect their sites.

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