Posted by Michael Hiteshew on January 22nd, 2006 (All posts by Michael Hiteshew)
SiteAdvisor helps protect you from all kinds of Web-based security threats including spyware, adware, spam, viruses, browser-based attacks, phishing, online fraud and identity theft.
Our automated testers continually patrol the Web to browse sites, download files, and sign-up for things with e-mail addresses. As you search, browse, download or register online, SiteAdvisor’s safety ratings help you stay safe and in control.
Does it work? First, I Googled SiteAdvisor. No complaints. Lots of good reviews. Hmmm. OK, let’s test it, methinks. So I ran a basic test. Ok, that looks right.
For a more interesting test, I entered the URL for Winsite.com, which offers free or very cheap software downloads of various utilities, games, whatnot.
Interesting result. As you see, it’s not a recommended site. Specifically, one of the free downloads they made, the Waterfall Illusion Screensaver, contained spyware, modified the computer’s registry, installed lots of files on the hard drive and contacted various sites both when it was installed and when it ran; a veritable Trojan Horse. Just to see if this was an obscure program lurking in some backwater on their site, I went looking for it. Well, that wasn’t hard to find! How’s front and center on the homepage for being promenent?
However, as the preview shows, SiteAdvisor’s main function is to run as a browser plug-in. When Google, for instance, returns a pagefull of links, SiteaAdvisor uploads their test results and gives a green, yellow or red indicator regarding their safety rating for the site and places it next to each link. Otherwise, if you’re simply browsing, you are red flagged when linking or browsing onto an unsafe site. Useful information.
By the way, if you’re looking for a secure, full function email tool, it’s hard to do better than Thunderbird. And you can’t beat the price.