McAfee SiteAdvisor

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McAfee SiteAdvisor
McAfee SiteAdvisor Logo.png
McAfee SiteAdvisor Website.png
The McAfee SiteAdvisor Website showing the review for Wikipedia
Initial releaseApril 2006
Operating systemCross-platform archive

The McAfee SiteAdvisor, later renamed as the McAfee WebAdvisor, is a service that reports on the safety of web sites by crawling the web and testing the sites it finds for malware and spam. A browser extension can show these ratings on hyperlinks such as on web search results.[1][2] Users could formerly submit reviews of sites.[3]

The service was originally developed by SiteAdvisor, Inc, an MIT startup[4] first introduced at CodeCon on February 10, 2006,[5] and later acquired by McAfee[6] on April 5, 2006. Since its founding, it has received criticism for its improper rating of some sites, and more importantly the length of time it takes to resolve complaints.


Prior to mid-October 2014, the functionality of SiteAdvisor could be accessed by submitting a URL to the website at, but can now also be accessed through a downloadable Browser Plugin.[7][citation needed]

Sites are rated in levels of Safe (green tick), Suspicious (yellow exclamation mark) and Unsafe (red "X").

Additional features include:

  • Rates email and IM links
  • Indicates sites potentially harmful to your computer
  • Allows users to safely shorten URLs when sharing links
  • Alerts users to possible phishing and identity theft scams
  • Redirects you away from red and yellow sites (if Protected Mode is enabled).[citation needed]

Products and services[edit]

A paid version of McAfee SiteAdvisor, McAfee SiteAdvisor LIVE, is included in McAfee Total Protection and has extra features:

  • Download Protection - SiteAdvisor LIVE allows the consumer to adjust how aggressively SiteAdvisor scans downloads. This can stop downloads which are considered to be slightly, probably or possibly risky depending on setting determined by the user. This feature can also be turned off.
  • Protected Mode - Allows the user to set a password for SiteAdvisor to prevent users from accessing or downloading from Yellow and Red rated websites. This password will also be required to change any SiteAdvisor settings after Protected Mode has been enabled.

In addition to selling to the end consumers, as of 2017, McAfee also sells to the web site owners with their McAfee Secure program, which supposedly runs daily security checks and gives passing sites a "McAfee Secure" badge.[8]

As of December 2010, McAfee Secure marketing materials say there are 350 million installs of McAfee SiteAdvisor, and a likely much larger viewer base with search engine agreements such as that with Yahoo.

A URL shortening service which advertised itself as "secure" was operated until mid-2018. Its defining feature was that it would deny redirecting to sites classified by SiteAdvisor as insecure, to provide users receiving a "" URL with the confidence that they would not land on a malicious site.[9]

Games and quizzes[edit]

In March 2006, McAfee launched a JavaScript-based quiz which has users pick between sites rated as safe and unsafe.[10]

A flash-based memory training game called "WebQuest" was launched around 2007.[11]

Studies and research[edit]

SiteAdvisor has published various reports regarding online threats such as typosquatting, where mistyped domains may lead to sites ranging from harmless pay-per-click and domain parking sites to pornographic and malware sites.[12]


False negatives[edit]

The very nature of SiteAdvisor and the long periods between site crawls mean that even if the SiteAdvisor tests were 100% accurate a Green rating offers no guarantee of safety. Malicious code and browser exploits often spread fast over large numbers of websites,[13] meaning a Green rating may not be up to date and may provide a false sense of security.


McAfee SiteAdvisor now makes use of the TrustedSource website reputation organisation, to act as something like a 'cloud' intelligence software to get the most up-to-date information on websites as possible, very similar to McAfee's Active Protection (Artemis) system.[citation needed] The details of this system are not known.


  • Time magazine named among the 50 coolest websites of 2006.[14]
  • Popular Science awarded SiteAdvisor the "Best of What's New" award in the Computing category for 2006.[15]
  • PC World ranked SiteAdvisor at #15 in "The 100 Best Products of 2007."[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vamosi, Robert (2007-02-16). "SiteAdvisor review: SiteAdvisor". CNET. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  2. ^ "SiteAdvisor for Chrome - Chrome Web Store". 16 March 2010. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2022.
  3. ^ on SiteAdvisor as of December 2014Current site (December 2021) lacks user reviews entirely.
  4. ^ "McAfee acquires MIT startup SiteAdvisor at Digital..."
  5. ^ "CodeCon 2006 Program". Archived from the original on 2008-04-30.
  6. ^ Dixon, Chris (2006-09-05). "Taking SiteAdvisor to the Next Level". Archived from the original on 2006-05-23. Retrieved 2006-09-05.
  7. ^ "Internet Archive Wayback Machine from Oct 12, 2014 shows "View Report Now" option". Archived from the original on October 12, 2014. {{cite web}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
  8. ^ "How It Works". Archived from the original on 30 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  9. ^ Before shutdown: After shutdown: (URLs not parsed due to filtering of URL shortener domains)
  10. ^ SiteAdvisor - Spyware Quiz - March 2006
  11. ^ "McAfee SiteAdvisor WebQuest". Archived from the original on 2 March 2007. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  12. ^ Keats, Shane (November 2007). "What's In A Name: The State of Typo-Squatting 2007". McAfee, Inc. Archived from the original on 2010-12-16.
  13. ^ "PC-pwning infection hits 30,000 legit websites". The Register. Retrieved 2009-07-18.
  14. ^ "SiteAdvisor's entry in Time's 50 coolest websites of 2005". 2006-08-03. Archived from the original on August 19, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-13.
  15. ^ "SiteAdvisor's entry in Popular Science's Best of What's New 2006". Retrieved 2007-04-20.
  16. ^ "PC World's list of "The 100 Best Products of 2007"". Retrieved 2007-05-23.

External links[edit]