Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Webroot subscription renewal seems to have a deadly-embrace trap, possibly related to original Geek Squad setup at Best Buy stores; Microsoft applies urgent KB to startup vulnerability

I am experiencing some misadventures with my Webroot renewal.  About a month ago, the control panel turned amber and warned me that the subscription would soon expire.  I updated the account, and it turned green.
About ten days ago, a little icon in the lower right corner (Windows 8) showed up, warning me again.  I tried the link, and this time it sent me to the Best Buy site to renew.  I did so.  The icon did not go away. 
I tried it a second time.   I don’t see any charges on any credit cards (I used American Express Optima) But the printout says that the card will be charged on a particular date in April 2014. 

I tried to go into the “My Account” link on the Control Panel.  Normally I would expect it to tell me the subscription date.  It invites me to log on.  But I had to create a logon account.  This seemed to work normally, until it asked me if it wanted me to add this “console” to an existing account.  That makes sense because I also have Secure Anywhere on an older Windows 7 Dell machine downstairs.  I said yes. 

But now I can’t log into it with the strong password I just created, or get the security question right.
Geek Squad does the support, so I supposes I will have to go to Best Buy near Falls Church VA and talk to Geek Squad about this.  Here is what I think happened.  When I bought the computer, Geek Squad set up the account and security questions and passwords.  Somehow I lost that sheet.  The system seems caught in a deadlock (or logical deadly embrace) between information entered by the Best Buy store and information I am trying to reeneter.  I don’t want it to be impossible to renew in April.

I would much prefer that credit card renewals be processed immediately so that we know that the renewal worked, rather than have to wait to the renewal date to see the charge and see proof that it worked.  Otherwise, the machine might suddenly not be protected for a time, and it takes very little time for hackers to get in otherwise. 

Update: March 27, 2014

GeekSquad says that the credit card charge does not happen until thte due date, and therefore the repeated appearance of the Webroot renewal notification icon is normal.  This seems a bit sloppy.

GeekSqaud used a java applet to look at the signon problems.  You sign on to GeekSquad, they give you a six-digit temporary pin, which lets them push an applet.  Windows will ask for permission for it to run.  You need java on your machine, but I do seem to have it as part of W8.  I suppose I can see how java could make a machine more vulnerable to hackers, who could mass attack by generating pins.  I'm not sure what the safest strategy to deal with this idea would be right now.  We'd have to look at what the Webroot Threat Blog has written about java recently.

They weren't able to resolve the logon issue, so I'll have to call Webroot directly soon.  It seems to have to do with the way it was originally set up at Bestbuy and the fact there is more than one machine.  That is uspposed to work.

The Webroot Secure Anywhere does run;  it's just that I can't get on to my account on their webserver. because of this deadly embrace.

Update: April 4, 2014

As I logged on this morning, Webroot would not start until I updated again.  But then the Best Buy Script told me my credit card wouldn't be charged until 2015!  My American Express still doesn't show the charge due today, but maybe it is too early in the day.  I can activate it when I boot up with doing the card transaction over again.  Obviously, if they don't catch this and fix it today, I will have to call again.  This seems to be a problem on Best Buy's servers.  It seems that Webroot is going through Best Buy to guarantee that the fee is paid, which is another possible point of apllication failure.
Update: April 9, 2014

I talked to Geek Squad a couple times.  One representative said that my machine should have been up and connected when the charge was applied. I'm not sure this makes sense, because you need a java applet to connect to the machine, or do you?

But this morning, Microsoft suddenly informed me that I needed to do an urgent update to Windows 8 with KB2922229.  I did the restart, and this time Webroot started normally without the warning.  But it may have been a startup problem.
Microsoft's link is here.  The vulnerability seems urgent.


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