Safe surfing

*Last update September 2021 (and additional comment placed down below).

Security Tips :

Web Of Trust logo

For many years I’ve been promoting WOT ( Web of Trust ) on this page, but times have changed. In the past WOT  provided a dead simple way to help users avoid dangerous websites.  Once installed the WOT placed a colour coded icon next to web links (e.g. already on Google result pages). Green was safe, Yellow was questionable and Red was bad and / or dangerous.

But what once was a strong community driven safety tool has reduced to an inactive and unreliable remainder. In the past WOT had about 140 million users in it’s glory time and most of them are gone or inactive ( like me ) nowadays.

So there’s no reason to recommend this tool anymore. The community has fallen apart and we’re on our own again when it comes to getting informed about dangerous websites, all kinds of malware and so on.

To be honest I don’t believe that McAfee Site Advisor or Norton Safe Web can ever compete to what WOT since 2006 for more than 10 years was. After all, how can a small staff from a safety provider be equal with a large community with so many eyes and ears open in many, many countries… From Malta to New Zealand and from Denmark to the RSA  WOT had members everywhere who knew the local situation and more. Just a thought ……..

About a year ago I noticed that website ratings had vanished, were outdated or not reliable anymore and – of course – that undermines the system. Recently I was informed by one of the moderators that the WOT staff doesn’t contact them anymore. And that WOT has fallen in Chinese hands. OMG !!  If that’s a commercial owner or governamental isn’t an issue. Every company in China has a commissioner from the communist government as a controller. So in the end Xi and his clan know everything. The moderator told me that WOT is now abused as a data collector, hidden behind the facade of another imago …..

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So, what to do now ?

Like I said before, we’re on our own again and we need to use several sources to optimize our computer safety. Remember that the best defense against bad sites is keeping your computer up-to-date with Windows Updates, a firewall and updated Anti-Virus software at all times. Years ago I’ve seen a list of top ten Anti Virus providers, but the differences are small. Most important is to have one active ! It’s a matter of minutes to get an unprotected ( new ) computer without AV ( Anti Virus ) infected. After all the internet is a sewer of pollution, so install an AV direcly !

But keep in mind : YOU ! are your the best defense against malicious Web sites. Err on the side of caution and be ever vigilant. If you click on a malicious link in a phishing mail, no safety tool is a guarantee to stay clean. Some hacks and types of ransomware can be very nasty !!

However, there are still things that can happen from time to time, so use your instincts, common sense and best judgements BEFORE you go to sites. If something looks strange / odd or out of place, don’t go there ! If for instance products are too cheap to be true, that usually stinks in a way and such sites have bad intentions, like infecting your computer.

Since cyber crime has become a weapon in the geo political power games between nations ( read my blog of August 03 – 2021 on the BLOG page ) and hence e.g. ransomware and hacker attacks have exploded, I’ve chosen to place an extra guard at the door by installing MBAM ( Malware Bytes Anti Malware ) in the Premium version. This tool can operate next to an AV, while two AV’s will fight eachother.

MBAM header-logo

Make sure to install MBAM itself with this link >> MalwareBytesAntiMalware . A Premium version protects constantly and has more functions, like frequent system scans or automatic updates and costst € 60, – per year. Which is much cheaper that cleaning up a contaminated device, if that will even succeed btw. My 2 cents …..

NOTE : Several companies have noticed the popularity of MBAM and have created their own version, still MBAM but decorated with useless functions, needless additions and other blah, blah. Don’t do that !!! * Those companies usually advertise in top of the Google results to earn money based on the succes of MBAM.

This is the – so called – multi layer approach and the beste counter attack against cyber criminality. 

Relaxed PC user

Relaxed PC user

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And finally an important note : Remember to back up your data at least bi-monthly to monthly !

Do this ! It,s a matter of discipline and saved me several times already !!!!!!

I know, your busy……… but do it !!! And make a plan in your agenda.

Internet security, privacy protection, web safety, web design

Be safe out there!


Comment added in April 2019 :

An update about the status of W.O.T. : What happened ?

A brief history in a birds flight, needed to give insight in the present situation :

In 2006 WOT was founded by the two Finnish students Sami and Timo. Their drive was to create  a community carried safety tool that could help to keep our beloved ( and sometimes also disguised ) World Wide Web in the air. Back then ( and still now ) there was a fear that one day the web would be demolished and fall apart, caused by cyber criminality, espionage, deliberate distribution of malware and other threats. * Nowadays we can also add to that the spreading of fake news, ransomware or mean phishing methods and that caused by the political and tactical power games by repressive regimes. Just to mention some.

WOT became a great success because it appeared to appeal to many people and gave them the feeling that they had a weapon in hands to respond to phishing, malware, spam, bad sites and other internet problems.

By coincidence I’ve found WOT in 2009 in the list of Firefox addons and became a member that summer when they had about 7 million members. Deleted that 2009 profile for privacy reasons again and made a fresh start in 2010 with my present profile. And that because I thought : “This is a great initiative and can be a nice safety tool to keep the web going“.

Through the years I became a top level member by putting hundreds of hours in rating sites, forum- and background discussions with other members, translating and improving Privacy Policies, Disclaimers, assisting in building good websites and web content. Finally I was one of the few thousand Platinum level members, active in the heart of the community and awarded by WOT for that two times as WOT Beta tester and with the “Publicity award”, that was given to 3 members each year. Learned a lot those days about internet safety and much more and gave of a lot of help to others as well. We supported each other, made friends around the world, helped newbies on the way and received something back for all the energy that was put in.

*And as an addition to my WOT activities I built this website, because I wanted to have a platform of my own where I could do more. Sometimes in cooperation with other WOT members from different countries

WOT grew out to a huge community of over 140 million members worldwide in nearly all countries in the world, from even The Vatican to islands in the Pacific. It brought me many relations all over the world and some of them are still my contacts by E-mail, on Linkedin and more. In the past we also had a lot of contact through the MB ( message board ) of our WOT profile, but that has changed now, since WOT is re-styled ( about that later ).

By that time the power of the community was enormous. And WOT had a scale that overran other detection systems like McAffee Site Advisor , Norton Safe Web and others. Those weren’t community driven and “the power of the crowd” gave wings to WOT. Many members volunteered to the community and “we” became a pain in the ass of  all cyber scumbags.

Then one day Sami left WOT for a new job and one and a half year later Timo followed. A big loss for the WOT staff and for the community, because the founders left and the “soul” of WOT was gone. The rest of the staff went on and WOT expanded to Russia and Asia, where in the beginning the base was mostly the English speaking nations and Germany.

Just a thought : When you’re becoming powerful ( like WOT ), you get enemies who are bothered in their activities by such a web tool. We could wait for a counter attack and that happened !

At some moment WOT ended up in a privacy scandal in Germany. Many valuable members left and the imago of WOT was heavily damaged. Their reliability was a discussion issue. That was no accident and I smell a conspiracy, because the best country by culture to have a scandal grow out to big proportions is – privacy sensitive – Germany. I won’t explain why, best not to stand on painful toes.

WOT as a company ( running the community ) was compromised and ended up in financial problems.  Apparantly their bussiness model was also undermined. And it took them too long to restore the damage and to delete the ( leaking ) bugs.

I guess that a lot of cyber criminals were rubbing their hands with a big smile on their face. Finally WOT fell in the hands of a lawyers office and was renamed to TOW, I assume that was a restart under a juridical new name.

Who’s the owner and who’s leading WOT now is a question to me, covered in the mist. The system still remains and new programmers are re- building everything. You don’t recognize anything from the glorious old days back, though they still are “in the air” and have a forum and ratings ( with comments ). But the community feeling is gone and a lot of members have vanished or – like me – have frozen their activities. I still have my profile and use the tool ( Firefox addon ) when surfing, but I’m not contributing to the WOT community anymore. The friends and contacts are partly gone and all former links to e.g. online checking tools and the WOT Wiki have been deleted. Good job, guys and girls ! Great ….. that works well ! * E,g. I had to rebuilt this website too, many links to the WOT Wiki were useless and I had to change them all.

So …. Times change and now in 2019 WOT is still a rather valuable tool, but the ratings aren’t always reliable, caused by system bugs,  or sometimes outdated and only give an impression. You need other tools to check if a website has a good reputation these days. That means that we – the members – are partly on our own again, the community has collapsed.

And that “they in Finland” don’t have a clue what they’re doing. WOT – new style doesn’t say me much, I’m not feeling “at home” there anymore. It isn’t appealing at all …..

Did a lot, made blogs for them and even made a flag for the open days at my company, that was later send to Finland ( and used in an exhibition in Helsinki on the wall ).

But the real party is over ! What will the future bring ? So far there isn’t an alternative similar to WOT. By far nothing comes nearby to what we had in the glory days . What a pity !

Note : You can find links to good online checking tools on top of the page >> > “Web design tips”  in the introduction. Use them ! IMHO the WOT on its own isn’t sufficient anymore, other sources of information are needed nowadays.

*NOTE : You can read in top of the page what happened after I placed this comment about WOT’s history in 2019

Safe surfing !

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