How do you know if the web site you’re about to visit, or the sites listed in a web search, are safe? One of the easiest ways to get infected or scammed is to simply browse the web without first ascertaining if the sites you visit are safe to do so.
While web browsers do have some protection built-in, they tend to only target fake web sites, which come and go in 24 hours. Other web sites deemed to have privacy and security issues are usually left well alone. As a result, you’re left surfing the web blind, with little or no idea if the web site in question can be trusted or not.
Some security tools offer web-filtering add-ons for major browsers, but Web of Trust aims to provide a safe browsing environment for those who don’t have access to such luxuries. It’s a free browser add-on which is also available for Firefox and Internet Explorer.
Sites, search engine results and even links in web-based email accounts like Gmail and Windows Live Hotmail are rated green, amber or red based on their safety and security ratings. In version 1.1 this protection has been extended to also include links in Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks, particularly shortened links using services such as bit.ly.
This protection enables you to avoid sites that harbour malware and other dangers (if you inadvertently visit a site rated dangerous a clearly visible warning will pop up). The ratings are provided by over three million WOT users, and you can add your own to the list. Unfortunately these ratings aren’t 100 per cent accurate, and a growing number of people are complaining that perfectly safe sites are being blocked due to subjective reviewing criteria.
You can also configure the add-on to automatically block sites that aren’t suitable for children, so it adds another layer of protection to your loved ones’ online experience without forcing you into a blanket ban.
The concept is perfect, adding a vital layer of protection to your web browsing, but the ratings aren’t 100 per cent reliable, which limits its usefulness.