The Safety of Internet Search Engines as it relates to spyware, trojans, tracking and spam emails is discussed in this McAfee report. The report is clearly intended to increase business for the security company, but shouldn’t be dismissed simply because it is intended for business PR through tie-ins with McAfee Security software sales.
I often warn relatives and friends to use care in their internet use.
- I tell them never to open attachments sent through email unless they are certain what the attachments are and expected to receive them.
- I warn them not to download ANYTHING from sites they know nothing about.
- I implore them not to make purchases from unsecure sites and to look for the little lock in the corner of their browser window and the https: in the browser address bar.
But despite all of the standard warnings issued to everyone, someone is inevitably fooled by spoof emails and fake phishing sites. It is impossible to prevent loved ones from visiting dangerous sites that they’ve found in internet searches and approving activex installs served by web sites they visit.
McAfee has taken this problem for searchers and turned it into a PR dream for their security software sales by offering a free plug-in calledSiteAdvisor, available for FireFox or IE browsers. The browser plug-in turns internet searches into a safety rating list by adding small red (for dangerous or spammy), yellow (for questionable), and green (for tested and positively reviewed) icons to the search engine results list.
The plug-in also puts a McAfee safety rating indicator in the lower right corner of the browser status bar along the bottom – with color coded status for each site visited and the ability to check reports made by others about each domain visited.
The reason that this plug-in is news for search is that it provides those little icons in the red, green and yellow stoplight colors to be displayed beside every search result. When a user hovers over the icon beside the search result with their mouse, it displays information about the site, including spammy emails sent from that site upon registration, links to other red coded sites – and user ratings of every site in the search results list displayed for every search you make.
This visual safety cue, the information provided by hovering over the icon beside search results and the status bar color coded “SiteAdvisor” window allowing further information from the McAfee database all makes for a more comforting, if not entirely safe, surfing experience. I’m recommending this to Mom for sure and other friends and relatives to make searching and choosing from among search results, a bit more safe and comforting experience.
McAfee SiteAdvisor interestingly rates Google and Yahoo as safe – even though their own study shows a high percentage of results which link to “red” sites and the browser plug-in is intended to help protect users from those results at search engines.
This is a pretty funny position to be in when it is the reason for the need for that plug-in in the first place – to prevent searchers from visiting links to dangerous web sites. Those links to unsafe sites show up on every page of search engine results pages – yet the engines are listed as safe. McAfee must have seen the irony in this and over-ruled the ratings for the search engines.