Description : Web Of Trust (WOT) is an extra layer of internet security right in your browser. Protecting you from scams, malware and spam, by shining a big red light on those sites that you could do without being on. This works by using a rating system, and uses both community submitted ratings and several lists from other trusted locations. If the site has a red rating, a big warning message will appear.
I’ve been following WOT and using it for a long time now, and I think the whole idea is brilliant. Community site ratings, becoming useful in your every day browsing. The image above shows a google search for “free screensavers”. If you currently search this on your computer, and don’t have WOT installed, there is no way of telling which sites you can trust and which you cannot. Looking at the image above, its very very clear. Most of these links are dangerous, and I bet a number of them have spyware bundled with the screen saver unsuspecting users would download.
Obviously, if this was purely integrated into google, it would be rather pointless. It is a browser plugin, and will work for all websites. Its very rare that I find a site that hasn’t got a rating of any kind, especially recently as the number of ratings has started to grow very fast. The fact that the system is partly based on community ratings raises a few questions. It does show the number of people who have rated it, which gives you a idea of the reliability of the ratings. Furthermore, you can also see the comments people made on the site, to see specifically what people have said.
Every now and then, I listen to this podcast from TWiT.tv called The Tech Guy. People phone up with their computer problems, and he tries to fix them or suggest where to go for help. About every other week, someone phones up saying they installed Antivirus 2008, because it said there were viruses on their computer. At this point its clear that the caller has been drawn into installing rogue anti virus software, and it is often suggested that they reformat their machine. Because it looks like its from microsoft, people automatically assume they should install it. WOT would warn users that what they are viewing is dangerous. Ok so this may not be extremely useful for us tech savvy folk in this instance, however, the next time you have to sort out someone’s machine because of a rouge website, you can do them a favour by installing WOT as well.
Let me make this clear. Google does warn users sometimes when there is dangerous website content, but that is purely on the site, by which I mean loading when the site loads. WOT will be telling you if the downloadable content on the site is trustworthy, via the site rating.
The rating system is based on 4 sections. trustworthiness, vendor reliability, privacy and child safety. The vendor reliability rating will tell you if the site can be trusted as a vendor (funny that). I raise this point because, when your searching for a specific product, and you can only find it on some horrid looking site that looks like it was designed using MS word, you need to know if it can be trusted product wise. You can see the comments people made, just like you can on the amazon marketplace with sellers.
Along with using the rating system as a guide, you can also contribute to it by rating the website’s you visit. This helps the community, which seems to have recently hit a high point in the number of users.
Conclusion : With over 2 million downloads, and over 20 million sites rated, WOT is the Web Of Trust for a reason. To be trusted. Sometimes, you of course will still want to access the dangerous site, you still can. The site also features security tips, security news, a forum and its own blog to keep you up to date. Big advantage of WOT is it works in both Firefox and Internet Explorer. It’s not like you will have to update it every day either, as its all done on the fly.