| By Ian “Gizmo” Richards |
As WS contributing editor Mark Edwards reported in his Feb. 12 Top Story, serious doubts have arisen about the accuracy of McAfee’s popular SiteAdvisor security service, which is designed to help you avoid hostile Web sites.
I’ll tell you about a free SiteAdvisor alternative that offers more reliable safety ratings — and many more features, to boot.
An aggregation of site-rating services
LinkExtend is a free Firefox extension that works similarly to SiteAdvisor, with one big difference. The browser add-on uses scoring from eight site-rating services, only one of which is SiteAdvisor. In addition to security ratings, LinkExtend tells you whether sites are suitable for family viewing and also gives you an indication of each site’s ethics, popularity, and more.
LinkExtend is available only as an add-on for Firefox, so Internet Explorer users are out of luck. The fact that the program is available from the official Firefox add-on site is comforting; you can be assured that the download contains no spyware or malware. Equally comforting is the fact that LinkExtend is an open-source app, so the program code is available for all to see. And if you want even more comfort, you’ll notice that users give LinkExtend 5 stars, which is the highest-possible rating.
Installation is as simple as clicking the Add to Firefox button. The file is only 433KB, so it should download quickly. Once installed, restart Firefox to activate LinkExtend. Firefox displays a new search toolbar, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. The LinkExtend toolbar (shown here in two halves) adds many security features to the Firefox browser.