Web of Trust: Cannot Be Trusted !
Information is so easy to acquire nowadays. Everything is shared and accessed online. With this in mind, it is critical to protecting yourself and what you share on the web by being sure of the websites you are visiting. Whether it’s a scam site, bogus web stores or other unreliable sites with distrustful content, it is important that you have the means to guard your accounts against malicious people waiting to take advantage of you.
The Web of Trust
In answer to the threats of security and privacy, add-ons or browser extensions, and other applications have sprouted to act as your shield; one of them is the Web of Trust. It is considered as one of the best when it comes to protecting your browsing related data. The company was established in 2007 with the goal of safe web search and browsing. The Web of Trust keeps you away from unscrupulous sites by determining and revealing to you the site’s reputation from users’ ratings and a bunch of other data. It acts as a stoplight; when the reputation of a site is good, then it gives a green light for you to visit; otherwise, it’s going to be a red light.
There are a lot of reviews about WoT’s services, and many people praised its effectiveness. Being a free add-on also made it very popular among netizens.
The Web of Trust, untrustworthiness uncovered
In a very surprising reveal, a German public broadcasting channel NDR (Norddeutscher Rundfunk), reported that a web browser add-on which was supposed to keep 140 million users safe had failed them. The said add-on is the Web of Trust. The NDR has discovered several privacy breaches made by the spyware company.
It was found out that Web of Trust’s has sold collected data to third-party companies, which could be businesses. This means that an extensive collection of web browsing data from millions of netizens goes to other people and the Web of Trust owners are gaining money out of it.
Though this is not quite uncommon especially that the company needs to survive as it is offering a free service, what WoT failed to do is to completely anonymize the data they are selling. This means that instead of just giving some unidentifiable data about a users’ location, the device used for browsing, the browser used, and other mundane web browsing stuff, they instead sold out data which can clearly be traced back to the users.
Millions of users at risk
It is estimated that the Web of Trust has over 140 million users. The journalists from NDR investigated only 50 Web of Trust accounts and were able to get a lot of information. Imagine 140 million users’ information, this is quite a huge number of data which includes:
- Websites that users visited
- Account names
- Email addresses
- Shopping habits
- Travel plans
- Users’ medical status
- Sexual preferences
- Drug consumptions
In the investigation done by NDR, they were also able to recreate one media company’s revenue data which is supposedly very confidential. In addition, a record of an ongoing police investigation was pulled out by NDR after analyzing the data they got from WoT.
The Web of Trust has responded to this by saying that they are taking steps to correct the situation. The WoT also stated that they take their obligations seriously, and explained that even if they take actions to remove data about the users, identification is still possible. They also insist that it only happens to a small number of users and not the entirety of them.
This revelation from NDR will possibly open your eye that the internet is now getting unsafe. Even the people who were supposed to safeguard your data could be unreliable. If you are Web of Trust user, it is critical that you uninstall it now for your own good.
If you are concerned about your anonymity, we strongly advise you to purchase a VPN service to encrypt your data on the internet.