Thursday, March 21, 2013

Browser Add-ons Part 5: Web Of Trust (WOT)

Social engineering is probably the biggest threat we are faced with in using technology because it takes advantage of our natural desire to trust those around us. There are so many ways in which we can be fooled into thinking something is safe that is not. In one short moment we can completely open ourselves to having our private information stolen. There is no end to the tricks that the bad guys use to look legitimate in order to perpetrate their crimes. So, what we have have to do is remain diligent and continually find new ways to protect ourselves. It's a never ending battle between good and evil.

That being said, it's been some time since I took a look at browser add-ons. And, before I continue, I must confess that one of my technology compatriots turned me on to this one. Web of Trust takes a different approach to determining the safety of the content we find on the Internet. Instead of dealing with safety from a solely technical position it leverages human interaction to assist in determining the safety of sites by maintaining a database built on millions of ratings provided by users and other "technical sources".

What makes this add-on great is its simplicity. Other browser add-ons that promote safety are certainly useful and have their place, but they rely on a user to understand more deeply the warnings being presented to them when the add-on flags potential danger. With WOT that element of difficulty is reduced because it simply tags a site as being safe, potentially unsafe, or deemed completely unsafe through the use of traffic signal-like icons. A green circle indicates a safe site, yellow indicates a site that is potentially unsafe, red indicates a site that cannot be trusted, and a grey icon with a question mark indicates a site that has no ratings provided by the WOT community of users. So, when you do an Internet search it will flag sites with one of these icons to give you a visual safety rating of that site. This is great because it helps reduce the chance of clicking on questionable links when searching.

This add-on is available for Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Opera browsers. Once you download and install the add-on it gives you some choices regarding the filtering of content including Basic, Light, and Parental Control. Parental Control attempts to block sites that are deemed unsafe for children while Basic merely gives you an indication of the safety value of the site. Optionally, you can sign up, or login to your Facebook account to use WOTs social features. The WOT add-on places an icon next to your web browser's address bar that let's you rate a site based on how safe you believe a site to be. By sharing your experiences with other users you help make the Internet safer for others. Ratings include: Trustworthiness, Vendor Reliability, Privacy, and Child Safety. In the WOT settings you can decide if you want to turn off Vendor Reliability, Privacy, and Child Safety. Trustworthiness is the base feature for this add-on so it cannot be disabled, which makes perfect sense, because without it the add-on would be pointless. Also, if you'd like to see the overall rating of a site you are currently visiting you can choose the "view scorecard for rating details". This will open another tab in your browser taking you to the WOT website. Here you will see the WOT community's overall grade for a site. Another nice feature is that you can even see the WOT community's grade even before you visit a site to see why it may have been rated poorly.

This is one more great add-on to consider having in your arsenal of malware fighting tools. To download this add-on visit: http://www.mywot.com/