Ask.com has partnered with Symantec to include a new “Safe Search” feature into the Norton 360 security suite, integrated into the Norton toolbar that is part of the suite. When a search is run from the toolbar, results are safety-rated by Symantec using a color-coded icon, to flag sites or sections of sites that may be malicious or harmful. Mousing over a rating will open a popup window offering more details about the Safe Search rating.
The toolbar works on both Internet Explorer and Firefox, and is set by default to not display “red” or potentially malicious web site in search results. There are options allowing you to tune the settings to meet your own comfort level when viewing search results.
The announcement is another part of Ask’s strategic focus of working with partners, in an effort to increase its market share among its target audience of families and kids. Danny wrote about this new focus a few weeks ago in Ask.com Partners With NASCAR, Says “Super Verticals” Will Put It Back In Search Race. The idea is that by leveraging the strength of its partnerships, Ask will be able to successfully compete with Google et al without necessarily doing battle directly with the major search engines.
Ask can use the help in acquiring new traffic. According to comScore, Ask’s share of the search market in the fourth quarter of 2008 declined to 4.0%, down from 4.4% in the third quarter of the year. Andrew Moers, president of the Ask partner network, declined to discuss specific traffic share the company hopes to gain, but said “It’s a big win for the Ask partner network. Symantec ships tens of millions of pieces of software per year, so it’s a very meaningful relationship.”
Google led the way in displaying malware warnings in search results when it began issuing warnings about potentially dangerous sites in February 2007. No toolbar is required to view these warnings—they show up automatically on a Google search result page when malicious sites are detected. Over the past weekend, Google’s system went haywire, briefly labeling all search results as malware.
Yahoo has had a partnership with McAfee since May of last year with SearchScan, which uses McAfee’s SiteAdvisor technology to flag URLs it deems “risky” in the search results. And Microsoft added malware warnings to Live Search results in December 2008.
The new Safe Search toolbar is part of the Norton 360 security suite, version 3.0, and will be available by download. The final version of the security suite will be released by the end of the quarter, according to Moers.