Although it is just a recent release still in beta testing (that's why it's not on Mozilla yet...they only accept stable release versions), SiteAdvisor is a legitimate extension for the two most popular browsers, IE and Firefox, that's picking up steam. Overall it has almost a perfect user review rating and has garnered the attention of today's issue of Cnet's Download Dispatch. (I couldn't find a web link, so in case you don't receive Download Dispatch I'm enclosing the article below.)
I believe the concern is with it reporting the list of sites back to the host, as there is no spyware bundled with the extension. However, I don't consider this a problem, for if you read FAQ #13, they note that everything is kept anonymous, as they don't even record your IP address. I know it's a case where you simply have to take their word, but I feel they're being honest. (One of those working on the project is a friend of a friend, so I'm taking their word until there's proof to the contrary.)
I've been using it for about a week now and have been quite satisfied with it's analysis of websites and search results. The only thing I wish is that it could also have the option of red-flagging porn, warez, and other sites...at this time it only warns about potentially dangerous downloads and links, as well as spam and popups, ignoring legal and moral concerns.
Hope this helps,
Cnet Download Dispatch: January 31, 2006
Normally, I like to vary the coverage in this newsletter by discussing different types of software and tech issues. Last Tuesday's dispatch had a definite antispyware slant (about the EULAlyzer, if you recall), but I recently came across another weapon in the war against spyware that's so useful I can't help myself from telling you about it.
In this era of drive-by installs and unannounced browser hijacks, surfing the Web can seem like tiptoeing across a minefield: one wrong step, and you've got serious problems. For the past couple of years, I have been hoping someone would develop a tool that tests Web sites for potential safety issues, so when I found a Firefox plug-in called SiteAdvisor, I was excited. Even better, once I started testing it this tiny add-on actually exceeded my expectations, which is rare.
The short story on SiteAdvisor is that it gives you the dirt on more than a million Web sites. Its test bots constantly check sites to see whether they send unsolicited e-mail, bury users under a blanket of pop-ups, and--perhaps most importantly--contain software that could compromise your privacy. Whenever you visit a URL, SiteAdvisor's browser icon flashes one of three colors: green (safe), yellow (caution), or red (extreme caution). Then, with a couple clicks, you can head to SiteAdvisor's home page for more detailed information. According to the company, about 90 percent of the sites tested so far have scored a green rating, whereas only 5 percent haved earned the red flag for bad behavior. My favorite part about the plug-in is that it rates sites directly from search engines such as Yahoo and Google, which reduces your chances of falling victim to a drive-by install.
It appears Download.com visitors are just as enthusiastic about the program as I am: SiteAdvisor netted more than 7,000 downloads in its first week on the site and has garnered consistently high user reviews. Look for the program's official launch March 1, which promises a number of enhancements over the already impressive beta version.
Associate Editor, CNET Download.com