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The Internet is often thought to be a place of great information, and because of this, our guard can be easily let down assuming that all places are safe. Although it is true that the Internet is an excellent place for information and researching, not all places can be trusted. All kinds of threats are possible online – viruses and malware, phishing, scams, unsatisfactory shopping experiences and untrustworthy content.
These are growing rapidly throughout the Internet. We’ve all heard stories about someone, maybe even yourself, who visited a website without realizing beforehand what it was and having something downloaded onto your computer without your permission. Thankfully, there is a tool to help guide you a little safer around about the Internet. That tool is called Web of Trust, otherwise abbreviated as WOT.
About Web Of Trust
Based out of Finland, Web of Trust has been helping people have the best online experience possible since 2006. And due to being downloaded over 30 million times during the spring of 2012, it has become the leader of the safe browsing tools on the Internet.
It works by allowing users to rate their experience in four different categories: trustworthiness, vendor reliability, privacy and child safety. It then calculates the reputation for the rated websites and displays them through a traffic-light style rating system which is displayed next to links in search results, social networks, webmail and several popular websites. Like you might assume, a green sign indicates the site is trustworthy and safe, yellow represents caution and red tells the user that the site may be dangerous.
WOT is available for all the popular browsers: Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera. If one of these listed isn’t the one you have, you can also use the WOT bookmarklet, which has all the same features as the browser extension. Most of all Web of Trust is free.
Getting Started With Web Of Trust
To download WOT, head over to mywot.com, click on the download tab and choose the appropriate one for your browser. Again, there is also a bookmarklet available as well. Once you’ve downloaded it, you’ll be asked to give it permission to your data on all websites, and your tabs and browsing activity. Click “Add” to continue. Once you do, a tab will automatically open displaying a message for the initial settings.
One thing that is great about WOT is the colorblind feature. You can learn more about it by clicking “What is this?” next to the option. After you have chosen your setting and clicked “Finish,” there will be a settings page where you can adjust WOT. The first page, which you’ll automatically be on, is a guide. I recommend quickly walking through this. It can be quite beneficial and give you a good idea how WOT works.
There is a row of tabs at the top of the page. Once you’ve finished the guide, become familiar with each of the options that WOT has. Typically this is a one time set up and you shouldn’t have to go back in and change anything, unless you want to later on. You’ll be able to access this page again any time by going to the extension’s options.
Under “Ratings” you have the option to choose any or all of the additional ratings. They’re all selected by default, which shouldn’t be changed unless you for sure know you won’t need one, like “Child Safety” for example.
Next there’s “Warnings.” The options here depend entirely on how sensitive that you want WOT to be. I recommend starting out with “Normal” and then going back and changing it depending on your own personal experiences.
Each website has its own scorecard too. On this, the ratings are displayed, as well as site information and comments by other WOT users.
After “Warnings” there’s “Searching.” By default, all the websites listed are selected, but you can uncheck any of them if you want. You also have the option of only showing negative ratings. This is nice because although WOT is great, a bunch of green circles all over the page are often annoying, especially on social networks and webmail.
Below is an example of how WOT might look in your search results.
Then there is the “Popup” page which allows you to toggle the popup feature of WOT.
Lastly, there’s the “Advanced” page where you are given the options to enable a color-blind accessible version and also set it to automatically log in.
Setting up an account is the next step. Of course, you can use WOT without registering, but it becomes more useful to you if you do. For example, if you’re logged in, it will remember your previous ratings of sites. To register, click the extension to display the dropdown menu. At the bottom right corner, you’ll see “Register”. Click on that and follow the steps.
Once you have an account, you can also connect WOT to Facebook. This means that you’ll always be logged into WOT as long as you’re logged into Facebook – and who isn’t always logged into Facebook?!
The photo above is an example of what a rating on Facebook would look like and how the popup is displayed if the circle next to the link is clicked.
Another reason to register with WOT is to have the ability to leave comments about a particular site. This may not directly impact you, but it does help other WOT users and without people who did this, there wouldn’t even be a WOT community, and without a community, WOT wouldn’t be anything at all. So each person and rating is essential to the accuracy and usability of WOT.
There you have it – your online bodyguard, ready to serve you. One thing I do want to acknowledge that is important to remember is that Web of Trust doesn’t replace logic. You shouldn’t ever rely completely on a program for your security and privacy. Just like you shouldn’t rely on antivirus software to prevent infections, you shouldn’t rely on WOT to prevent clicking on “bad” links. Your own discretion is your ultimate Internet bodyguard, WOT is just a nice, reliable sidekick to have along.
Are you a current user or a newcomer to WOT? If you’re a current user, how has WOT changed your browsing experience? If you are just finding out about WOT, what about it attracts you the most?