New Firefox Extension Makes Surfing Safer

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I recently had an email from Yotam Elal, the developer of the well known Firefox FoxLingo extension, to let me know about his latest product, LinkExtend.

LinkExtend is a free Firefox extension that adds a special search toolbar to your browser.  With LinkExtend installed, all your search results (whether done through the LinkExtend toolbar or not) are annotated with a wealth of information about each site listed including:

  • Safety - Informs you if a web page is malicious, sends spam, contains spyware, online scams, identity theft, and more
  • KidSafe - Alerts you about sites that are unsafe for children and let's you erase these sites from your Firefox history automatically
  • Ethics - Rates ethical behavior of a site's company including social responsibility, business practices, environmental impact, etc.
  • PageRank - Represents how important a page is on the web, based on the Google link analysis algorithm, ranked from zero to ten
  • SiteTraffic - Shows you how popular a site is, based on the average page views and users for a particular site or web page
  • Visited - Tells you when you last visited a site, what pages you accessed, and lets you remove the site from your Firefox history

Each of these rating is compiled from multiple sources. For example the safety rating is compiled using McAfee SiteAdvisor, WOT, Web Security Guard, Browser Defender, RGguard, Norton Safe Web, Compete and Google Safe Browsing while the KidSafe rating is based on data from Alexa, WOT and ICRA.

This is an impressive set of data that should allow users to make informed decisions about sites they visit.

Here's a screenshot of Google results for a classic hazardous search: "Free screensaver."  You can easily see which sites are safe and those that are not.

Searches done through the LinkExtend Toolbar itself use the ixquick meta search engine that combines the top results for many different search engines. I found the results good but slow compared to a straight Google search. And as I mentioned earlier, you still get LinkExtend annotations even on a standard Google search.  In fact I turned off the LinkExtend Toolbar to save some screen space.

Search safety can be further improved by using LinkExtend to filter out particular search results. So for example, you could configure LinkExtend to hide unsafe sites or non-KidSafe search results. This is an optional feature that you can configure to meet your needs.

But LinkExtend's features aren't just limited to safety; it adds many productivity tools including website thumbnails, last time you visited the site, site reviews and much more.

All up this is a most impressive package. Sure it may slow down your searches a tad but most users will find the additional information provided more than worth the slight delay.

Gizmo

LinkExtend is freeware and contains no adware or spyware.

LinkExtend Home Page: http://www.linkextend.com/
LinkExtend Mozilla Page: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/10777

Adendum:  I asked the developer how the security ratings from different services were combined. Here's his response:

The main security rating is decided in this way:

  •  Low Risk - No service has found the site to be unsafe, or only one service found it to be medium risk.
  •  Medium Risk - At least two services have found the site to be medium risk, or only one service found it to be high risk.
  •  High Risk - At least two services have found the site to be high risk.
  •  Unknown - No service has rated the safety of the site

 

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