I’ve mentioned WOT in a number of my previous posts, but I thought I’d give it a bit more exposure, given the amount of scams, fake news websites, and general internet douchebaggery that is so prevalent right now.
Web of Trust is a FREE extension that adds a small circle after any clickable link on your computer to let you know how trustworthy that site is. Here’s an example – recently I was trying to remove a hijacker that redirected me to Spectrum’s search service when an unknown URL was encountered:
Notice that the circles can be green, yellow, and red – just like stoplight. That’s your first clue – but it pays to drill down for more information as I mention below. Green is generally trustworthy, yellow is questionable, and red is downright dangerous. A gray circle with a question mark means there is no information (yet) about the site in question.
Some dangerous websites will be flagged by Google directly (Click image to enlarge)
If you have a paid version of Malwarebytes, known malware websites will be automatically blocked:
But if neither one of these help, WOT will give you a warning for red-circle links that looks like this (Click image to enlarge):
You’ll notice that you get a summary of ratings and reasons why the website is not trusted.
In addition, search engine results can be previewed simply by hovering your mouse over the colored circle:
and then you can follow the “click to view details” link to get a full page of information about the website.
As with anything that is crowdsourced, one needs to be cautious. A tool like this could be used to give bad ratings to a website by an unethical competitor, so look at the dates of the reviews and get an overall feel for the page in question. In general, though, I’ve found that this tool tends to be self-correcting, so if one person rates a site untrustworthy for malware, and five other more recent users give reasons why it’s safe, I feel pretty confident that the first review is either spurious or outdated.
If you want to rate websites yourself, you can create a free account, log in, and provide details of your experience.
In addition to protecting you from viruses or other malware, WOT can be very useful for verifying whether news sites are reliable or not.
An example: Today on Facebook I saw a link to a story that there was a second shooter in Las Vegas:
That yellow circle told me right off that this story is questionable. Hovering over the warning gave me this:
And a subsequent search on Google for yournewswire.com confirmed that this is a notorious clickbait, inflammatory, fake-news website:
Founded by Sean Adl-Tabatabai and Sinclair Treadway in 2014. It has published fake stories, such as “claims that the Queen had threatened to abdicate if the UK voted against Brexit” (Wikipedia)
It pays to be safe, and it pays to be careful. This little extension works well with Window 10 and earlier versions (I’ve tried it on XP and 7 both), it’s free, and it provides a wealth of information about internet dangers. I highly recommend it.
The Old Wolf has spoken.