McAfee has launched a new URL shortening service over at McAf.ee, which leverages the security vendor's threat intelligence to determine if the destination URLs are malicious or not.
Shortened URLs grew in popularity along with Twitter, the website where they truly made a difference, due to the 140 character limit for messages.
However, they have since become pretty much ubiquitous and are now used in emails, blog comments, social networking sites and a wide variety of other places.
There are a lot of URL shortening services out there and even more have came and went, but in the end, when it comes down to market share, few of them really count.
Bit.ly is the biggest at the moment and is the default option on Twitter since May 2009, when it replaced the currently number two service – TinyURL.com.
McAfee calls its new product a "secure URL shortener," but truth of the matter is that there's very little need for yet another service like this and it is very unlikely that McAf.ee will ever serve a considerable audience.
Apparently, the idea for this service was put forward by the company's French PR team some months ago and as such it will probably end up being used for marketing and PR purposes.
Maybe the company's own Twitter accounts and blogs will also make use of it, but we suspect that's all the activity it will see, regardless of the security benefits it offers.
McAfee is not the first security vendor to launch such a service. In May BitDefender announced
Saf.li, an URL shortener capable of scanning the links for viruses and other malware.
And at the end of the day, Bit.ly doesn't lack in security either. The service employs
URL scanning and reputation technologies from three different security companies – VeriSign, Websense and Sophos.
McAf.ee is also more intrusive than other services. It loads the destination website inside a frame and places a branded bar at the top, in a StumbleUpon fashion.
This space is used to list the website's full URL, the category it is part of and whether it is malicious of not, but link to a page with information about McAfee's Global Threat Intelligence network is also included.