“Powered by 140 Million Users & Machine Learning, our free browser extensions, mobile app and API let you check if a website is safe before your reach it, giving you a clean and safe browsing environment” claims the Web of Trust (WOT) website checker.
WOT claims to secure you against scams, malware, rogue web stores and dangerous links on the Internet.
The idea behind the Web of Trust is to try to make the Internet a safe place by automatically checking any website before your browser opens it. It does this by having a regularly updated list of dangerous websites. That list comes from its users marking websites as dangerous, so it’s crowdsourced information. WOT say they also use blacklists compiled by other people, of dangerous websites.
This is a great idea – if you find a dodgy website then you tell WOT and they can then warn other people about it.
But, this approach does have it’s limitations. For example, auction sites have been marked dangerous by WOT because of one or a few bad sellers. It’s also possible that some sites are marked dangerous by members because they don’t like them rather than there being anything dodgy about them.
Reputation icons are also shown next to links on search engine results, social media platforms, webmail, and other popular sites to help you search safely.
When the WOT add-on is installed, you will see a small doughnut shaped icon next to your browser’s address bar. The icon shows you the site’s rating and reputation: green indicates a safe website, yellow tells you to be cautious, and red indicates potential danger.
The Web of Trust website also has an online community with more than 100,000 posts so it is an important community which discusses website ratings, security and online safety.
There are lots of alternative services that provide a similar warning before you access websites. Google Safe browsing is one of the most popular and is free.
There are also similar services provided by the makers of anti-virus and anti-malware software. Site Advisor is one of the most popular. These services don’t have the advantage of crowd sourcing but they are technically very proficient.
If you worried about the safety of browsing then do look at WOT and its competitors and pick the one that works best for you.
If you have had bad experiences with websites or these protection services – do let me know, by email.