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Friday, June 12, 2009

Protect your computer with Firefox extensions

Infection by viruses or malware is a constant background concern of every computer user, especially those who have a lot of time and effort expended in their family history/genealogy files. I have been working on the computer for years and my files reflect the cumulative effort of thousands of hours of work. For this reason I am always looking for new ways to protect my information, but at the same time do not want to interfere with my work on a day to day basis.

The Firefox browser has a number of extensions to help increase your level of protection from worms, hackers phishers, and similar attacks on your computer. In a recent article ten of these extensions were discussed and evaluated.

The first of these I tried is called Web of Trust. The publisher describes this extension as follows:
Keep yourself safe from spyware, adware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and other Internet scams. With the free WOT browser add-on, you can easily see the reliability of companies and websites. WOT will warn you and save your computer before you interact with a harmful site. WOT, Web of Trust, is an online community for reputation rating that lets Internet users share their knowledge of websites, helping you stay in control when surfing the Web. Besides its users, WOT uses hundreds of trusted sources such as phishing site listings to keep you protected against rapidly spreading online threats. As you search with Google, you will see a tiny icon next to the Web link: green to go, yellow to slow down, red to stop. You can easily customize the protection level to your way of surfing the Web. WOT has information on 20 million Web sites. WOT ratings are shown also on Yahoo, Gmail, Wikipedia, and other sites. Version 20090414 fixes warning and window size issues for small screen resolutions.
After installation, the search results from Google show red, yellow and green dots next to every result. In searching on the term "genealogy" I was interested to note that the Ancestry.com, a sponsored link Website came up with a red warning dot. The site was ranked poor for trustworthiness, vendor reliability and privacy. Every search that I made, such as "family history" and "ancestry" all came up with a bright red dot for Ancestry.com. Anyone have any ideas why? It appears to me that the complaint is that the link is used for advertising and tracking purposes. The problem with Ancestry.com may also have been caused by the fact that the link from the Google search went through an empty referral site that had a bad reputation.

I am pretty sure that I don't want to bog down my computer with security, but at the same time I think this Web of Trust extension is really helpful in getting an idea of a Website has some ulterior agenda.

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