Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002


Screenshot of SiteAdvisor

SiteAdvisor is a browser extension for Firefox and Internet Explorer which enables you to check how safe a web site is. It cross-references the domain of the web site you are viewing with a database on the SiteAdvisor web site and then notifies you of its score.

With the extension installed, a button appears in your toolbar (IE) or status bar (Firefox) which changes colour depending on how safe the site is. Sites that have passed its automated tests are green, sites which you may potentially have issues with are yellow and sites which have confirmed issues are red. These may be sites with lots of popups or that try to install spyware. Sites may also appear grey if they have yet to be checked. Clicking on the button lets you view a more detailed report that says which factors lead SiteAdvisor to give the site its rating.

It also overlays Google search results, by putting marks beside each site. As you can see in the screenshot, I did a search for a popular spyware-free file sharing client and several of the sites had red marks, mostly for being fake sites wanting money for software that is actually free. Many of those were sponsored listings, which is a bit scary.

It looks like quite a useful extension and probably one I would keep. I don’t tend to browse dodgy sites but it’s better to be safe than sorry. I would, however, have liked the ability to move the button to my toolbar instead of the status bar, as I already have Adblock, Greasemonkey and mozCC there so it gets a bit full from time to time.

SiteAdvisor is owned by McAfee so it’s not some random company that is providing the service, and their privacy policy is very strict. It’s currently free but may charge in future.

Update: The extension has now been updated and is now fully branded as being part of McAfee. It also means that the SiteAdvisor button in the status bar is even bigger now, and you still can’t move it. πŸ™


  1. In general won’t most web browsing be either known-sites or search engine results? I’m fairly sure you could write a greasemonky script to use the siteadvisor data on search-results for any searchengine, which would a) free up statusbar space and b) let you carry on using something other than google.

  2. A true g33k just knows πŸ˜€

    • Joe – well yeah, and a true geek just runs Lynx on *nix as well so it’s very difficult to launch popups or spyware attacks.

  3. Apparently my blog is “free from annoyances” and has “some users”… good to know! πŸ™‚

  4. SiteAdvisor

    Ik kom via de Blogupdates bij Neil's World. Daar wordt een interessante extensie belicht: SiteAdvisor.Ik ga deze eens testen. Later wellicht meer.

  5. I’ve been using siteadvisor for a while and I think it’s great. I don’t really need it myself, but I would definately recommend it to less web-savvy people.

  6. People with even some experience on the net should not need such things, but it might come in handy sometimes.

  7. As a desktop wallpaper addict, it’s nice to have SiteAdvisor available to tell me which wallpaper sites are good and which are laden with junk. I was also pleased to see that my two favorite e-card sites are both rated well.

  8. I installed this when I read about it on here. It works pretty well. I found one site that turned up orange and they said that if you enter your email then you’ll end up getting spammed (loan site). Fair enough.
    I deliberately went to a phishing site when I got one of those dodgy Paypal emails – it only showed grey, so they were obviously unaware of it at that time – looks like there’s always going to be a time-lag when these things turn up before the site is tested.
    Also, my site was tested and came up with two annoyances – third party cookies from scripts I’d installed from 43things/43places. I’ve removed those now.
    It’s a handy thing to have though πŸ™‚