The internet counts roughly 650 million active websites. The diversity of information and services offered makes it almost impossible to tell, whether or not a specific site is safe to use. Browsers like Chrome do not contain native systems to warn you of malicious scripts or downloads. And while you can rely on your antivirus and malware scanner, once an infection has hit you, it’s a hassle. Moreover, where can you find out about the trustworthiness of an online vendor or in case previous users have been scammed?
Web of Trust, or short WOT, is a community-driven service that can help you figure out which websites to trust. WOT is available as add-on for Chrome and other browsers. It indicates website and URL ratings directly in your browser and can help you navigate the web safely. We have recently published a detailed review of WOT. This article provides a brief review and focuses specifically on the Chrome add-on.
Setting Up WOT for Chrome
WOT installs like any other browser add-on for Chrome. Simply click Download free add-on on the WOT website or click the Add To Chrome button in the Chrome Web Store. Once you have installed the add-on, the WOT icon will show in the top right corner in Chrome, in between your other installed add-ons.
Following a successful download, WOT should automatically open a welcome page, which allows you to continue the setup. Here you can choose between three different settings: Basic, Light, and Parental Control. In the second step you can sign up to access social features, including leaving comments, personalizing your account, and participating in forum discussions. However, the sign up step is optional and you can click straight to the final step, surf safer, from where you can take a guided tour of WOT.
Using Web of Trust
The WOT icon appears in the top right of your Chrome tab and next to URLs on many websites. The color of the icon indicates the overall reputation of the respective website or URL. WOT ratings come in five different colors, from dark red (very poor) via yellow (unsatisfactory) to deep green (excellent). A yellow star on any of the rings means that the detailed scorecard contains user comments. The white ring with a question mark indicates that the respective site has not been rated, yet.
When you view a website, you can click the browser WOT icon for a rating overview. For URLs, hover over the symbol next to them and a mini overview will show. Click the overview and the detailed scorecard will open in a new tab. When you are trying to open a URL that has a very poor WOT rating, a warning will be displayed on top of the site in your browser window. You are free to choose to ignore the warning and go to the site anyways.
You can customize which ratings you want to see. Right-click the WOT icon in Chrome and select Options. This will lead you to the WOT Settings page. Here you can select whether or not to view ratings for Vendor reliability, Privacy, and Child safety.
Web of Trust is a very useful tool to get a quick idea of how safe a URL is. However, keep in mind that all ratings are made by users and can be manipulated. Before trusting a website with personal data, be sure to view the scorecard, read the comments, and use common sense.
Have you been using WOT in Chrome and have you found it useful?
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