Tag Archives: Web Of Trust

Web of Trust (WOT) privacy scandal

I’m a bit surprised there is nearly no news surrounding this in English news, especially on tech sites, considering the scale and amount of users of WOT that aren’t limited to German market only.

Researchers of German NDR (Norddeutscher Rundfunk or Northern German Broadcasting) found out that WOT browser add-on was (and as things stand now, still is) gathering user data beyond what they were promising, ranging beyond only visited websites, they are gathering entire user history from browser, usernames, e-mails and more and selling it to 3rd parties. And they are doing this in such sloppy way external researchers were able to identify individuals by accessing open resources from WOT without even illegally (via hack) accessing their servers. You can apparently do it without any of that!

What’s even worse, after researchers asked developers of WOT about these things, all they got back was… silence, pretty much. Just a very vague reply that you can read here. When someone, instead of being open about the issue veils in silence, that’s a sign that something is going on. And nothing good will come from that.

I liked WOT a lot, because it was good resource to identify unknown websites and what experience others had with it. I’m not aware of any other service that has such level of user involvement in user rating and commenting of webpages. But as things stand now, I recommend users to at least block all public views of their ratings in WOT profile. What they’ve transferred to the 3rd party has already been done, but I think blocking will prevent cross-linking of users to the data. Also make sure to delete all cookies in browser under name “mywot” and quite frankly, deleting your WOT profile at this point wouldn’t be a bad idea either considering all the weird things going on around this service.

I now prefer avast! rating add-on (avast! Online Security) which comes with avast! Antivirus which I already use. Chrome users can even install it separately via Chrome Store even without avast! Antivirus. There is no commenting, but it has extra features like tracking blocking and the fact that avast! as company is very open about their product. When there were privacy concerns about it, they instantly provided answers to any questions by users. They also in detail explained how their rating and resource sharing system works and you can even opt out sharing of properly anonymized data with 3rd parties.

More links, mostly in German with greater details. Use Google Translate to read them.

In depth information from the researcher who uncovered all this:

https://www.kuketz-blog.de/wot-addon-wie-ein-browser-addon-seine-nutzer-ausspaeht/

Think whatever you want, but something fishy is going on and I’m not going to stand around as the smell spreads. Until developers come clean, this thing should not be on any computer.

I’ll keep you posted how things develop in the following days or weeks…