The Norman Transcript

Business

March 31, 2013

Who do you trust?

NORMAN — Like it or not, the Internet is a dangerous place. Scams abound and it’s often difficult to tell the bad guys from the good. Common sense can only carry you so far in making the all-important decision: Do I trust this website, or not?

It’s a bit like using the Yellow Pages to shop for a lawyer or dentist. All of the ads look good, but you have no way of knowing if the people behind the ads can really do a good job. It’s a real bummer learning that a lawyer or dentist is incompetent only after losing a lawsuit or having the wrong tooth removed. As such, we usually seek out the opinions of people that we trust to help us decide which lawyer or dentist to hire.

Trustworthy opinions about websites can be harder to come by. Sure, you can ask my opinion, but I can’t rate every website in the world. Sites like Amazon and Yahoo are generally safe, but I wouldn’t trust all of the ads that they display. Recently, one of my favorite weather websites, Intellicast, contained an ad linking to an Internet scam website called Google Money Master.

What’s needed is something like the Better Business Bureau for the Internet, but, sadly, the BBB lacks the personnel to review the approximately 200 million active websites in existence. Some services, such as McAfee SiteAdvisor, have tried to solve this problem, but have provided inconsistent and dubious results. One solution that actually works quite well, invented by two college students from Helsinki, Finland, is called Web of Trust.

Web of Trust (WOT) is a free security addon for your browser, and is designed to warn you before you interact with a risky website, keeping you safe from online scams, identity theft, spyware, spam, viruses and unreliable shopping sites. WOT is compatible with Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera and Apple Safari. Download and install WOT at www.mywot.com.

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