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Symantec Threat Meter Tests E-mail, Web Browsing, Instant Messaging, File Sharing

Symantec on Tuesday launched a new Internet security barometer that gives consumers clues on which online activities are currently safest.

But unlike rival security meters, Symantec's new Internet Threat Meter breaks out current risks by activity: e-mail, Web browsing, instant messaging, and file sharing.

In its debut, the meter labeled e-mail as a "Medium: Use Extra Caution" risk, and Web activities, instant messaging, and file sharing all as "Low: Use Basic Caution." Threats will be tagged with low, medium, and high markers.

Competing Internet security meters includes those from the Internet Storm Center, Internet Security Systems, and Computer Associates. However, all three only provide a single, overall rating.

The meter pulls its data from Symantec's global network of sensors and researchers, and is available from the Cupertino, Calif.-based security company's home and home office Web site.