Symantec yesterday announced the beta for its Norton Safe Web, a service meant to directly compete with McAfee’s popular SiteAdvisor. But unlike SiteAdvisor, which is available as a free download to anyone using Firefox or IE, the Safe Web beta toolbar is currently only available for those beta testing Norton Internet Security 2009.
Symantec’s announcement post says the beta will “provide visual site ratings within everyday search results from top search sites like Google, Yahoo! and Live Search,” and “also warn users before they visit a site that contains malicious content.”
You can check a site against Safe Web’s rating without the toolbar if you visit http://safeweb.norton.com/ and type in a particular URL. Doing so allows a comparison of a SiteAdvisor warning and a Safe Web warning for the same troublesome site. As you can see, they look quite similar:
SiteAdvisor warning page v. Safe Web warning page.
SiteAdvisor does offer information in its warning not currently listed in that from Safe Web, such as whether the rated site links to other known bad sites, or if it sends many e-mails after a user provides his or her address.
According to Symantec’s post, “Norton Safe Web is designed to complement the security protection of products like Norton 360 and Norton Internet Security and is planned to be included in future releases.” There’s no indication of a planned public freebie for non-Norton users, like those offered by SiteAdvisor and LinkScanner (now owned by AVG). McAfee and AVG use those free offerings as marketing tools, and in the case of SiteAdvisor, as a way to increase the number of people who contribute user reviews for sites.