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Summary:

This week I’ve been using an interesting, free Firefox extension called McAfee Site Advisor, which you can download here. While Firefox 3 has new features built into it designed to identify potentially malicious web sites, I’m betting that McAfee has a larger knowledge base about these […]

This week I’ve been using an interesting, free Firefox extension called McAfee Site Advisor, which you can download here. While Firefox 3 has new features built into it designed to identify potentially malicious web sites, I’m betting that McAfee has a larger knowledge base about these site than Mozilla does.

McAfee Site Advisor shows up as a green icon at the bottom right of Firefox, as seen above, and warns when you arrive at a dangerous site. You can right-click on the icon to get options such as View Site Details, which will take you to a page letting you know whether McAfee has tested the site and found it to be safe, and more.

Also, if you do a search in Google, safe sites will be marked with a green check when you get your results back, or a red X will warn you that a site is unsafe, or a yellow exclamation point will pronounce the site’s safety undetermined. You can also hover over the icons, in search results, to get detailed information about site safety.

Strangely, I did not get the red, green and yellow site advisory icons when I did searches in Yahoo–only in Google. I occasionally use Yahoo to search, so it would be good to have this work in both search engines.

Even if you don’t use SiteAdvisor as a Firefox extension, you can still check McAfee’s assessment of any web page by entering its name into the search box on this page. Reviewers from around the web are invited to contribute to the details on the pages in the SiteAdvisor database.

As I wrote in this post, based on IBM’s security trends findings, malware attacks from web sites–rather than from e-mail attachments–are on the rise. Site Advisor looks like a good adjunct to the more simple warnings that are built into Firefox 3.

What do you have on your Firefox toolbar?

  1. I’ve used this for ages and it’s fantastic. Well, on one machine. Need to install the extension on my others…

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  2. I used it for about a year on each of my computers. I finally uninstalled it when I realized the extension was the source of extremely slow searches, and that the sites flagged were never the sites I would have chosen for my answer anyway. Also, the site for Snopes.com always came with a warning. Since I often must debunk urban legends in my reference job, I needed Snopes and got tired of the warning.

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  3. Firefox’s phishing site database is run/maintained by Google–why would McAfee’s database be better?

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  4. I have *so* many addons on my FF3 install… Just the ones I can see; Delicious (I love being able to type that without putting the .’s in), Foxmarks, Firebug, Read it later, SEO toolbar (www.seobook.com), Sxipper, gmail notifier. They are the ones across the bottom anyway, we’d be here all day going through the others. :)

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  5. I concur with Samat and klz here. Considering Mozilla uses Google for their database, I doubt that I would “bet” that McAfee is any better. Also, having both enabled will only slow your performance.

    McAfee’s historic strength has been in heuristics of scanning files. I’m not sure that applies so much in what is currently just a giant list of known good and bad URLs at this time; a white list and a black list if you will. Based on strengths of both companies, I would actually give the edge to Google. They’re constantly crawling pages, and have a huge index to compare to. It would seem they have much more raw data at hand, and more experience with that type of data than McAfee.

    As a developer, when I find a bug in a program I’m testing, I tend to examine the pattern for what caused that bug, then go back and search for any other code that might match that pattern. For Google, if they find a pattern that matches a suspicious site, they can easily go back through their index/cache and flag pages for further review.

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  6. An alternative to SA is Web of Trust. WOT is a website reputation rating system that warns Internet users about risky websites without slowing their browser down. We have hundreds of thousands of users and safety ratings of 20 million websites.

    WOT gets it site reputation data from the user community in combination with trusted sources such as listings of phishing sites. Reputation data is recalculated every 30 minutes, so it’s fresh and is based on standards of trustworthiness, vendor reliability, privacy and child safety.

    WOT is a Mozilla recommended add-on that also works with IE.

    Please visit us and take a look at our new video exposing bogus free scanners that frighten unwary consumers with fake warnings.

    Best regards,
    Deborah
    Web of Trust

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  7. Anyone know how long the SiteAdvisor Green, Yellow and Red icons have been included in Google Search Results (if you have SiteAdvisor installed)?

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