Site Advisor 2.0: Haute Secure Launches To Detect and Block Malware

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Haute Secure launched moments ago: it’s a new browser plugin that the company says will detect and block malware before it has a chance to infect your computer. The timing couldn’t be better as news spreads of more Windows-based vulnerabilities.

Haute Secure is free and relatively non-intrusive to the browsing experience. Like Site Advisor, acquired last year by McAfee for a rumored $80 million, users will be warned about sites that may contain malware.

But Haute Secure is also different from Site Advisor, and can provide more protection to users. Site Advisor focuses only on entire sites, labeling them good or bad. That works for some sites, but not for, say, MySpace, where hackers have been able to take over accounts and add malware to popular pages. Haute Secure looks at each page on a site individually and blocks those pages which are bad. Site Advisor also doesn’t try to block malware, just warn the user of it. Haute Secure blocks it.

Haute Secure is also a P2P solution, and the detection software is included in the plugin (Site Advisor does not use its plugin to detect malware). As soon as you locate new malware code, the plugin notifies the Haute Secure servers, which then send the information out to all other plugin users. This effectively increases the amount of web space the service can analyze quickly, adding more protection to users.

Haute Secure also analyzes advertisements, a common vehicle for delivering adware. This triggers warnings on a number of sites that include ads from networks known to carry malware.

Here’s a good example of Haute Secure in action: a malware site at lindsay-lohan.org (do not go to that site) pops up on yahoo search as the third result for a search on that popular actress. Site Advisor gives it a “green” rating, meaning they think it’s clean. But Haute Secure has detected malware on the site and blocks it.

The founding team includes Steve Anderson (acting CEO), Frank Swiderski, Iain Mulholland and Rob Vucic. They’ve raised just $500,000 in funding from Baseline Ventures and Ron Conway.

For a deeper dive on the technology side by a security and kernel expert, see Alex Ionescu’s beta review

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