Although most web browsers have some kind of web reputation built in, none of those is giving any security information while you are searching for something on Google, Yahoo, Bing or other search engines. Furthermore, with rise of URL shortening services such as bit.ly, you do not really know whether the link you're clicking in Facebook or Twitter is safe or not.
Fortunately, there is a good and free program that handles all this mess - Web Of Trust (WOT) Safe Surfing Tool (aka WOT Safe Browsing Tool or just WOT). It allows blocking malicious sites, provides protection on major search engines, shows ratings for links on Facebook and Twitter (including shortened links), and it works in all major web browsers (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera). You can even synchronize your WOT preferences across different browsers - so you will have the same settings both with Internet Explorer at home and Mozilla Firefox at work.
WOT Safe Surfing Tool is a third-party extension for Internet Explorer, so please make sure you have Enable third-party browser extensions setting enabled in Internet Options, Advanced tab.
To check that, press Alt key once, open Tools menu in Internet Explorer and click Internet Options. Then click Advanced tab above and find the Enable third-party browser extensions check box. Make sure this box is checked. If not, check it, click OK to close Internet Options and restart Internet Explorer (close all open Internet Explorer windows!).
The Metro-style Internet Explorer 10 app in Windows 8 does not support any extensions or toolbars, so WOT Safe Surfing Tool will not work there.
Go to Web Of Trust download page. Let's make it clear - the web page address is mywot.com, not wot.com.
Click Download free add-on.
Please click the link with the name of your web browser for detailed instructions on downloading and installing WOT Safe Surfing Tool.Click here to show or hide WOT install instructions for Internet Explorer
Internet Explorer 8 users should click Run in the File Download - Security Warning dialog.
Internet Explorer 9 and 10 users will see a Notification Bar at the bottom of window. Click Run.
After the download is complete, Internet Explorer 8 will display another dialog. As long as the Publisher is Against Intuition Oy, it is safe to click Run.
Windows Vista, 7 and 8 users will encounter a soft and caring touch of User Account Control. As long as the Verified publisher is Against Intuition Oy, it is safe to click Continue or Yes to allow WOT installation.
WOT for Internet Explorer Setup will open. Click to check the I accept the terms in the License Agreement box. Then click Install. (Wow, no bunch of Next buttons? Cool!)
Click Finish after the setup is complete.
WOT Safe Surfing Tool will open a new Internet Explorer window after this. For Internet Explorer 8 users, the WOT add-on is now ready to rock, but Internet Explorer 9 and 10 users must click Enable in the "The 'WOT' add-on from 'Against Intuition Oy' is ready for use" notification to allow the Safe Surfing Tool to run.
Click Open in the Do you want to open or save this file? dialog.
In the Are you sure you want to install the extension "WOT" dialog, click Install.
After this, WOT is ready to rock.
Click Add in the Add to Chrome dialog.
WOT is now ready to rock.
You will be redirected to Firefox Add-ons page. Click Add to Firefox.
You might have to click Allow in the pop up near Firefox Address Bar / Awesome Bar.
After downloading the WOT add-on, Firefox will open a Software Installation dialog. Click Install Now (the button becomes clickable after 3 seconds).
Firefox will then notify you that a restart is required to complete the WOT installation. Click Restart Now to close and re-open Firefox.
After Firefox restart, WOT is ready to rock.
You will be redirected to Opera extensions page. Click Add to Opera.
Click Install again in the Install Extension dialog.
After this, WOT is ready to rock.
The first time WOT Safe Surfing Tool starts with your Internet browser, you will see protection settings dialog. For most people, the default selection (Basic) is fine, so click Continue.
Next, WOT offers to sign up. You need to register WOT only if you want to synchronize settings across different browsers and computers. Synchronization will work between all supported web browsers and and operating systems - so you can keep your settings in sync between Internet Explorer on Windows, Opera on Linux and Firefox on Mac, for example.
WOT will still work fine if you do not register or sign up.
If you do not need synchronization, just close the browser tab.
If you do, fill in the required data and click Save.
Those already registered can click the log in link on the top. Please do not log in to your WOT profile or register with WOT on public computers (e.g. PC-s at internet cafés) as this can reveal your sensitive information to other people!
In case you want to register later, click WOT icon in browser's toolbar and then click Register now.
To configure WOT, click its icon on browser's toolbar and click Settings.
Make sure that Ratings tab is open. If you do not have kids, clear the Child safety box. Always leave Vendor reliability and Privacy on.
Move on to Warnings tab.
Here Normal is the default setting. If you see switches on the right, set all items in Behavior column to Blocking. Please note that the switches are available in Internet Explorer and Firefox only.
This will check web page ratings before loading it - a must to stay safe from sites with drive-by-downloads and drive-by-attacks. If you don't know how dangerous these attacks are, read our Malware and web threats article.
If you want to be extra safe, you can also check all Protect me if no rating is available boxes in Customize your level of protection column. This will block all pages that have no rating yet - it might include brand new malicious pages, but also some safe sites that are still waiting to be discovered and rated.
But, no matter what, never put a check mark in the Show only notification of warnings box! This makes all protections pointless and your browser is open to drive-by-attacks.
This also means that you will see a Loading website screen before opening a safe web page. The loading screen might appear for several seconds depending on the speed of your internet connection.
Finally, click the Apply settings button on the bottom of the page. You might need to scroll down the page to find it. All other settings are fine by default.
If you have the recommended settings in Warnings tab of WOT settings, you will see the Loading website screen before opening a safe web page. The loading screen might appear for several seconds depending on the speed of your Internet connection.
The WOT icon in web browser displays the rating for the web page you are viewing:
- Green means that everything's fine. If the icon also has an exclamation mark on it, you have not yet configured WOT Safe Surfing Tool.
- Yellow means that there are some minor problems. Click the icon for additional details.
- Red means that the web site is unsafe. Get out!
- Question mark means that the web site has not been rated yet. Stay cautious about such pages, these can mean trouble, especially if the page offers some breaking news, hot pictures or downloads. Such sites might be loaded with malware that tries to steal your information.
Sure, the web site might also be safe, but do not use it until it gets a rating.
- Exclamation mark means that there is an update to WOT Safe Surfing Tool available. Click the icon and then click the New version available - click to update button. This applies to Internet Explorer users only, other browsers are able to update WOT automatically.
Apple Safari users do not see colored ratings. WOT icon stays gray all the time, but the rating is displayed with an additional mark:
- Check mark means that the web page is safe.
- Exclamation mark means that the web page either has some problems or is unsafe. Click the icon for additional details.
- Question mark means that the web page has not yet been rated. Stay cautious here.
If you click WOT icon, you will see a rating overview. The number of people who have voted is shown with person icons - more dark gray icons mean more votes.
To see all details and comments about the site, click the View scorecard for rating details button.
You can add your own rating for the page by clicking on the My rating bars. Dark green means very safe and dark red means totally dangerous.
In case a web page is not safe, you will see the Blocked! screen with WOT ratings. As the web site was not loaded, you are safe from drive-by-attacks. Cool!
If you search for something on major search engines, you will see WOT rating for each result. It is recommended to use only links with green icons. If you stop your mouse pointer on WOT rating, you will see the rating overview.
WOT also displays ratings for links in Facebook and Twitter. This feature is sadly not yet available for Internet Explorer users, but other browsers display ratings even for shortened links (bit.ly, for example).
Again, only green links are safe. As Facebook and Twitter are often used for spreading malicious scams, do not click links with question marks here!
Here is a Facebook example:
And here is a Twitter example: