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Free Tool Scans Sites For Threats

A security start-up on Thursday unveiled a free tool that scans Web sites for malicious code and other exploits, giving users a chance to steer clear of dangerous URLs before they click on links.

The tool, dubbed "LinkScanner" by Exploit Prevention Labs, is the fruit of an earlier effort -- the Atlanta-based company's SocketShield -- and in later versions, will compete with better-known site raters such as McAfee's SiteAdvisor, Exploit's chief operating officer said Thursday.

"At some point, you'll be able to enter a search here and point it to a specific [search] engine, and we'll return pages with scan results," said Chris Weltzien.

SiteAdvisor, technology that security giant McAfee acquired in April, rates sites in search results posted by Google, Yahoo, and MSN, but uses a completely different methodology.

"SiteAdvisor is not immediate and not empirical," said Joe Chiarella, Exploit Prevention's product manager. "Its information is not necessarily very fresh; we're instantaneous."

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