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McAfee Acquires SiteAdvisor


SiteAdvisor buyout by an Internet security giant

McAfee has recently acquired SiteAdvisor - a special plug-in able to identify sites that are linked to adware, spyware or online frauds. SiteAdvisor works on Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft's MSM and is available for both Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers. Its main job is to inform the user whether the current site they are visiting is affiliated with adware/spyware so that every user can avoid any possible security or infection problems before they happen.

What is SiteAdvisor?

The interface of SiteAdvisor is intuitive and easy to use. After installing the application, a small button will appear on the toolbar. The button colors inform you whether you are visiting a safe site (green), a questionable one (yellow) or you've just landed in a place you should leave immediately (red).

The database of sites is created by examining a wide variety of conditions: its e-mail and download practices, the amount of pop-ups and relationships with sites that have already received the red flag. SiteAdvisor can provide the customer with a detailed report about any given site, including any questionable downloads that are lurking around, spam received from that site as well as association with known adware/spyware sites.

Small, but important

One of the most amazing things in SiteAdvisor is the scale of this project. While the program is small, it will be an important addition of the McAfee empire.

To prepare the database of web sites, the SiteAdvisor team has downloaded and tested over 600,000 pieces of software and provided unique e-mail addresses on over 1,600,000 sign-up forms; everything to protect the customers from possible dangers and retribution. The tests performed by SiteAdvisor showed that about 5 percent of sites should be avoided at all costs (red flag) and another 2 percent can be considered as questionable (yellow flag). For inexperienced web surfers, it may seem that there is little to be afraid of, but we should mention that such results in combination with the average activity of every Internet user, mean that every month people visit about 175 million dangerous sites in search engine results alone.

Since SiteAdvisor represents a brand new approach to the problem of adware/spyware distribution, McAfee seems to be just as interested in practical solutions used by the program as in the brand itself. It is worth noticing, however, that SiteAdvisor can't protect your computer from possible infections. It will only inform us that we are in a hot zone. The important thing to remember about SiteAdvisor is that advising is all it does. Any user can continue to navigate through a site that is known to carry spyware. All SiteAdvisor is going to do is let you know what it thinks is a safe site and which ones aren't. The rest is up to the individual user. And since the vast majority of spyware infections are due to user error, we're not sure how many infections SiteAdvisor will really prevent, but for those that will heed the warning, the program should serve as a useful tool.

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