Avoid Unsafe Web Sites with Web of Trust

Last Updated Jul 30, 2009 12:16 PM EDT

The seemingly innocent act of clicking a link -- even one that's at the top of a Google search page -- can lead to spyware infestations. Free browser plug-in Web of Trust promotes safe browsing by vetting the links you click.

In other words, it warns you about unsafe links. Here's a lengthy (about nine minutes) but informative video that shows how -- and why -- to use Web of Trust:



What I really like about Web of Trust (WOT for short) is that you can right-click any link -- say, one that appears in a user forum -- and choose View WOT scorecard to perform a manual safety check.

Just the other day I was about to click such a link, one that appeared in a post comment -- but then I remembered that all it takes is one drive-by download to seriously hose my machine. And I literally thought to myself, "I need a security tool that lets me vet links before I click them." WOT is that tool.

Keep in mind that while WOT works well with browser-based mail services like Gmail and Yahoo, it won't help you with mail received in Outlook, Windows Live Mail, and other desktop clients. For that you should install some kind of local security software.

WOT is free. It's available for both Firefox and Internet Explorer. Although its little rating icons can clutter up certain Web pages, I recommend it very highly for anyone concerned about security.

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.

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