McAfee Gobbles Up Web Ratings Security Startup

By Ryan Naraine  |  Posted 2006-04-05 Print this article Print

The anti-virus specialist has wasted no time snapping up SiteAdvisor, a startup that rates the Web to determine if a site's content includes spyware, spam, viruses, browser-based exploits or online scams.

Anti-virus security specialist McAfee has wasted no time gobbling up SiteAdvisor, a 1-year-old startup that rates the Web to determine if a sites content includes spyware, spam, viruses, browser-based exploits or online scams.

McAfee announced April 5 it is acquiring the tiny Boston-based company that counts respected anti-spyware activist Ben Edelman among its roster of backers.

Financial terms of the acquisition, which come just one month after the official launch of the SiteAdvisor browser plug-in service, were not released.

McAfee, of Santa Clara, Calif., did not say how it would integrate SiteAdvisor with its existing product suite, but a source close to the company said the plan is to leverage SiteAdvisors massive database of shady Web sites for use in consumer-facing and enterprise offerings.

"In addition to the consumer benefits, SiteAdvisor offers great potential for our enterprise solutions as well," said George Heron, vice president and chief scientist at McAfee. "[This technology] adds another dimension of strength and value to McAfees threat databases and will offer a significant corporate benefit," he added.

For SiteAdvisor, which has received funding from Bessemer Venture Partners General Catalyst Partners, it is a swift exit in a market saturated by startups hawking security services.

To read more about SiteAdvisors system for marking unsafe Web sites, click here. The company uses automated crawlers to test every Web site on the Internet and a color-coded (red, yellow or green) system to flag potentially dangerous sites. The idea is to have a browser plug-in serve as an alert on search engines if the user surfs to a site that may be hosting malware or exploits.

In March, SiteAdvisor said its service had placed a red "X" warning label on approximately 5 percent of all Web traffic and warned that there are 1 billion monthly visits to Web pages that arent safe for surfing.

Ziff Davis Media eSeminars invite: Is your enterprise network truly secure? Join us April 11 at 4 p.m. ET as Akonix demonstrates best practices for neutralizing threats and securing your network. SiteAdvisor places a green checkmark on sites cleared as having no significant problems. However, if a Web site tries to change the users browser defaults or send a lot of "non-spammy" e-mail, the service will take a use a yellow exclamation mark to caution users.

Web sites found hosting drive-by exploits, bundling adware or spyware with downloads or hammering inboxes with spam get the dreaded red warning "X."

The browser plug-in is available for Internet Explorer and Firefox users.

In a blog post announcing the deal with McAfee, SiteAdvisor CEO Chris Dixon sad the free features in the current software will remain free for existing and new users.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.

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