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Ask partners with Symantec on security ratings for Web searches

Norton users will be able to see security ratings for Web sites directly in searches on Ask, under new Symantec-Ask partnership to be announced Tuesday.

With Safe Search, color-coded icons accompany all Web results indicating their safety rating. Moving the cursor over the icon displays more information about that rating. Ask/Symantec

Search engine Ask is partnering with Symantec to offer Web surfers ratings on the safety level of sites in search results, the companies were set to announce on Tuesday.

Sites will be rated with a color-coded icon in one of four colors--green for safe, yellow for risky, red for unsafe, and gray for unknown, said Andrew Moers, president of Ask Partner Network. Moving the cursor over the icon will display more information about the rating.

Unsafe sites are ones that pretend to be something they are not and shopping sites that lack security or where the merchants aren't reputable, according to Moers.

Safe Search offers the ratings directly in the search experience so users can conduct searches from the toolbar of Symantec's Norton Safe Web software, which is part of Norton 360. The Web site rating service was introduced in beta by Symantec last August.

Ask also is working on having a beta site open up to the public this week, but the site will not have all the functions that the Norton Safe Web rating service does, Moers said.

The service is similar to an alert system that Google uses, however Google merely displays several warning messages saying that the site "may be harmful to the computer" but does not assign a safety rating. An error last Saturday led to Google warning temporarily that all sites on the Internet were potentially unsafe.

Ask offers adult filtering and re-launched its Ask Kids white list service for children last year.