Staying safe online is the computing equivalent of looking both ways before crossing the road. Like the ancient adage “look before you leap” being able to spot danger is a case of learning the prerequisite skills for the appropriate situation.
While crossing a road is something we learn over time from the age of 4 and upwards, staying safe online isn’t given the same attention, despite the potential dangers. Viruses, sexual deviants and scammers are waiting to take advantage of everyone, which is why knowing how to stay safe and steer clear of these online hell holes will give you a better surfing experience.
If you don’t opt for a family safety application such as that provided free by Microsoft, there are alternatives.
Many anti-virus and Internet security solutions regularly feature tools that advise you whether or not the website you are about to visit is trustworthy and safe, but if you don’t use a service that offers this, you will need to make other arrangements.
Checking Websites Before You Visit
The best way to stay safe is by checking the websites before you visit them. There are various ways of doing this, from utilizing the Google preview service to adding a plugin to your browser that displays details about the website you plan to visit.
Google offers various features to aid you in visiting safe sites. First of all there is the Advanced Search link on every results page, which you can use to alter the SafeSearch setting to confirm that it is switched to On.
In addition, the search engine results offer a small magnifying glass that you can use to display a thumbnail-style pop-up preview of the website concerned. While this might not be ideal in some situations, you can certainly use it to spot whether or not a website you are planning on visiting is safe for younger eyes.
WOT is the Web of Trust?
For a more all-encompassing method of avoiding unsuitable websites, the WOT Web of Trust tool can be used. Available via www.mywot.com, this tool offers various ratings that help you to decide whether or not a website is trustworthy, secure, etc.
The main way of using the tool is to enter a URL into the main website, but if you would prefer to use a browser add-on, this is available in Firefox.
To get your WOT browser add-on in Firefox, go to Tools > Add-ons and search for WOT. With the Web of Trust item selected in the search results, click Add to Firefox and follow the instructions that are then displayed.
A similar tool is available for other browsers, available by visiting the WOT website via the link above and selecting Download > Download Add-on and selecting the download for your preferred web browser.
With the WOT browser add-on installed you will then be able to mouse-over links to get a pop-up detailing the website’s reputation, enabling you to make an informed decision as to whether you want to visit or not…