Help Develop a Web of Trust

The biggest downfall of the internet is that it has provided a haven for the criminal element (organized crime) that will literally do a virtual “drive-by” of your PC  (if you let it) and rob you of your money and your pride. As with any crime, the criminal looks for opportunity; and in the case of computers and the internet the opportunity to commit crime is blatantly available.  It is sad when I hear people express fear of their computers and the internet due to the criminal element side; or I have heard where they have been victimized and have no idea of how it happened. In essence a web of distrust is being created…

Folks, please do not let this get you down. The fight is on and there are things you can do to protect yourself on the internet.  One of the options to help protect you when browsing the internet is an online FREE service called the Web of Trust (WOT) .

image WOT is a very simple browser add-on (that you install) that warns you of risky web sites before you click. For example, if you perform a Google to search, WOT will rate each search result for trustworthiness.

image

I install WOT on every PC that I get my hands on. It will not slow down your PC. When installed, it trains you to visually inspect every click you make in your web browser. Almost all internet crimes start as a result of a mouse click. In addition to WOT, you should always maintain your Windows’ updates, use  antivirus and antispyware software and keep your Windows firewall turned “on”.

The cool factor with WOT is that the you can register and become part of the WOT community and help develop a Web of Trust by rating the sites you visit.

WOT ratings are based on shared knowledge

Each community member can contribute to WOT. Share your knowledge to help other users surf more safely by providing ratings for sites that you have used. On the Security scorecard you can tell your story and reasons for the rating you have given, helping others to make an educated decision before interacting with the site. The system processes ratings and calculates the reputation for each website. Attempts to manipulate the reputation data are effectively countered through the use of sophisticated algorithms.

I could go on and on about WOT!  To learn more about this FREE browser add-on, please visit the Web of Trust website.

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11 thoughts on “Help Develop a Web of Trust

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  1. Rick,

    It would be unsafe in the extreme, to go boating without a life vest – think “Deliverance”, (the old movie). Just as it is unsafe in the extreme, to cruise the Net without WOT.

    Like you EVERY machine I come into contact with gets WOT installed, and NO argument about it.

    Bill

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  2. Rick,

    I actually have to disagree. As a system administrator and a webmaster, I have two separate reasons that I dislike Web of Trust and applications like them.

    As a system administrator, I would really like Web of Trust to work. Simply put, it doesn’t. People that are going to click on bad links ignore the WOT symbol anyways and after a while it becomes a blind spot just like people become blind to ads.

    As a webmaster, I’ve read quite a bit about WOT being gamed and false positives in McAfee’s SiteAdvisor being left to suffer from this undeserved, reputation-crippling status.

    Here’s my write-up of one case that had that problem:
    http://www.404techsupport.com/2010/03/whats-the-harm-in-mcafee-siteadvisor/

    Frankly, it feels that a lot of effort and money is spent developing the system and the means to “quarantine” sites but little is done after these systems get big to make sure they remain accurate.

    I prefer OpenDNS’s approach to preventing visiting bad sites. WOT, being a Firefox add-on, has little that can prevent a user from uninstalling it and the same goes for SiteAdvisor (the toolbar can at least just be unshown) which, in my opinion, is more intrusive. Controlling the visited sites through DNS usually removes a user’s ability to muck with a system you’ve put in place to protect them.

    If it worked like it is supposed to, I’d be all for it but I don’t think Web of Trust has matured to the point where it can be relied on. Still… probably a good recommendation for that 80% majority.

    -Jason

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    1. Jason,

      You are correct on many points and I do have to agree. As a matter of fact, during the drafting of this article I was going to include a blurb about the false positives. I run into them all of the time; however, they make me stop and think (or question). Bottom line, better than nothing, for that 80 percent… Site Advisor is another good one, but I always felt McAfee was trying to sell McAfee. Also experienced; however some time ago, lags in page loads. OpenDNS, I totally agree with… I currently use it and promote it. Wrote an article or two about it. We’re pretty much on the same playing field with all of this, which makes me feel good when a peer is expressing my thoughts, as well.

      Rick

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  3. @Jason,

    I read your comment with great interest, which of course, led me to read your article on SiteAdvisor.

    Overall, I found little to disagree with. You have presented your views in a thoughtful manner, and left the reader with much to consider. Very well done.

    My readers will find your article educational, and so I have included it in my tomorrow’s Tech Net News column.

    Bill

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      1. Thank you both. It’s always great to be able to discuss these sorts of things with intelligent, tech-minded colleagues.

        Have a good day,
        -Jason

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  4. Sorry to come late to this ‘thread’, but I do want to commend Jason and his article. (I am in complete agreement; so this is not meant to detract from Jason’s points.)

    I am a Help&Support (and repair) technician who primarily helps the Home User. I am also a student of InfoSec.
    There are many facts to consider, but it kind of boils down to…
    1) The Internet is the vehicle for cybercrime.
    2) To be really secure from the attack vectors the cybercriminals typically employ, you need to turn OFF — Flash, Shockwave, Java, JavaScript, block iFrames, block, block, block, disable, disable, disable.. (To make my point, many truly security-paranoid/conscious use a command line browser).
    3) The “average user” understands none of this (and when you try to explain a “false positive”, they reply, “but it’s a computer!” (meaning, it’s always right.) And you hear things like, “it said to ‘click here’, so I did.”
    4) For this type of user, (and I think 80% might be a bit low) though it most certainly is gamed, and quite frequently has ‘false positives’, I know of no better warning system than WOT. Yes. There is a lot of room for improvement there. But if you know of a better tool.. PLEASE let me know!

    I have built a website or three, but am not a “webmaster”. I have watched the evolution of websites, as I was right here in Silicon Valley since the web went public. I now run across websites that are 100% Flash-based. I run across sites that you cannot navigate the menus unless you enable scripts. It is MHO, that chasing the latest, slickest, web fad is a mistake. But. How do you stop “progress”? People like the glitz and the bells-and-whistles, and the First Rule is “Give The People What They Want.”

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  5. I use and promote WOT and also use SA, OpenDNS etc, but any system that uses ratings is open to abuse.

    I fully agree with Jason and his excellent articles, sites can be badly rated such as snapfiles.com, because they may have a malicious download somewhere, but by the same token, some of bigger and well known download vendors also actively have malicious/fake programs available for download but do not get penalised in the same way.

    For the ‘average’ user WOT can be a useful addition as can OpenDNS and other apps, but it won’t necessarily stop them from downloading or visiting known bad sites and there will always be FP’s regardless of what security users have and users do need educating.

    All programs have room for improvement as malware evolves and more and more users have poor security as they are quite happy to buy a computer, power it up and go without a thought about security – until they get a problem!

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    1. Colin,

      It is good to see fellow bloggers (IT Colleagues) out there being proactive when it comes to fighting malware (cybercrime). There are two very valid points that you have made. Those points being that “any system that uses ratings is open to abuse” AND “there will always be FP’s (false positives)”. I know from my own experience, this has always been the case when it comes to any software (or system) that is engineered or designed to protect computers. I look at this way, “something is better than nothing”.

      Thank you for the great comment on this very important subject.

      Rick

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