Browse The Web More Safely With WOT

 Posted by on March 30, 2011  general
Mar 302011
 

Browse the web more safely with the WOT (Web Of Trust) safe surfing software. Increasingly, viruses infect your computer when you visit an infected website – you may not even have to download or click anything on that website, just visiting it is enough to infect your computer (often called a ‘drive by’ infection).

How To Prevent Virus Infection? Up to date antivirus software (preferably a paid security suite that includes a firewall) is essential to try and stop virus infections but no security software is 100% effective – additional protection is useful to avoid coming into contact with the virus infected website in the first place.

A good way of doing this is to use the safe browsing software WOT (Web Of Trust). Used by millions worldwide (and Facebook) it filters search results made through most common search engines (e.g. Google, Yahoo, Bing) and puts a simple red, yellow or green flag next to each search result as an indication of whether the site is viewed as dangerous, suspicious or safe.

How WOT Works – The WOT warning system of colored flags enables you to easily see if a website in your search results is considered safe or dangerous before you visit that website – prevention is better (and cheaper!) than cure.

Another useful feature is that if you do click on a search result for a site rated as Red (dangerous) by mistake, WOT intervenes with a full page warning asking you to confirm if you are really sure you want to go there – this gives you a last chance to back out while you can.

You can also review the detailed ratings in WOT if you want to see why a site has been rated as dangerous or suspicious by the WOT community (only registered users can rate websites but it is free to register if you want to).

How To Install WOT – WOT is compatible with XP, Vista and Windows 7 and is available for all major web browsers like Internet Explorer (IE) and Firefox. If you use more than 1 browser you will need to install WOT once on each browser you use. We will show you how to install it on IE (but the process is very similar on other browsers):

  • Open IE and go to the WOT site to download and install WOT – the download page will automatically recognize that you are using IE so you don’t need to worry about which version to choose :-)
  • Click on the ‘Free Download For IE’ button.
  • If the usual File Download/Security Warning box appears, click Run to download and install WOT.
  • If you get another security warning from IE, click Run again and the download and installation begins.
  • Tick the box to accept the terms of the license agreement and click Install to proceed – when completed, click Finish.

After WOT Installation – The WOT Settings page will now open in a new window (you can see WOT as a green circle in the IE menu bar). Just leave the default Basic (recommended) option selected and click Next to proceed to the Registration page.

You can register if you want (to be able to rate websites yourself) and then click Finish but you do not have to register – if you don’t want to, just click the red cross to close the registration window and it won’t ask you again. Now close all IE windows and then reopen IE.

How To Use WOT – Do a search on Google and you will see a colored circle next to each search result. The ratings are Green (safe), Yellow (suspicious), Red (dangerous) and Grey with a question mark (Unknown, not enough ratings by registered WOT users to decide yet – perhaps a new or not popular site).

An example of what you would think is a harmless search for ‘book seats to Michigan’ is below:

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Example WOT Search

Most of the results are Green but there is one Red one. By moving the mouse pointer over the red circle a popup appears showing the individual ratings for Trustworthiness, Vendor Reliability and Privacy – which are all bad. If you want more information, click on the Red circle and a new page opens up showing the comments from WOT users as to why they have rated this site badly e.g. phishing/scam/viruses.

If you do click on a link to visit a Red (dangerous) site by mistake the following warning pops up:

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Final Warning

You can choose to ignore the warning and go to the site (not recommended) or just use the Back button at the top of your browser to go back to the search results and avoid visiting this dangerous site.

Conclusion

No rating system can be 100% effective as it relies on individual user ratings but WOT is an excellent tool to flag up potentially dangerous and suspicious websites in search results before you visit them – so you can avoid the viruses, scams or other risks that these sites may contain.

  4 Responses to “Browse The Web More Safely With WOT”

  1. I’ve been using this little tool for a while now and I can honestly say it’s saved my bacon more than once. I think it’s great that you are spreading the word about it. Loving your website btw – got it saved to my favourites!

  2. I’m currently using AVG 2012 anti-virus and AVG safe search. It appears as though WOT is a better tool to detect “drive-by” web sites so I’m thinking about installing it on my browser. Would it be necessary to disable AVG safe search or can you have both running at the same time without them causing problems and interfering with each other?

    • Hi Mark, you should be able to have both running together – the extra delay in checking search results with both is minimal if you have a decent broadband connection.

      If adding WOT did cause you any problems you could just uninstall WOT. Personally we find that WOT picks up more dodgy sites (not just viruses) than AVG and other antivirus ‘safe search’ software but, if you can, use both as they each provide a different benefit:

      AVG Safe Search scans a site for active threats e.g. viruses whereas WOT provides ratings of a site based on ratings from millions of users. Even though a site may not have active threats (viruses) it may contain download links to malicious software or have a bad reputation for spamming users/adult content/selling fake products etc – these risks would not be detected by AVG Safe Search but can be detected by WOT because it is likely that previous WOT users would have rated the site badly.