WOT Services

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(Redirected from WOT: Web of Trust)
Developer(s)WOT Services
Initial release2007
Typebrowser add-on

WOT Services is the developer of MyWOT (also known as WOT and Web of Trust), an online reputation and Internet safety service which shows indicators of trust about existing websites. The confidence level is based both on user ratings and on third-party malware, phishing, scam and spam blacklists.[1] The service also provides crowdsourced reviews, about to what extent websites are trustworthy, and respect user privacy, vendor reliability and child safety.[2]

A 2016 Norddeutscher Rundfunk investigation revealed that WOT Services sold user activity data collected from its apps and browser extensions to third parties in violation of the privacy policies of the app stores on which the software was distributed.


WOT Services was founded in 2006 by Sami Tolvanen and Timo Ala-Kleemola, who wrote the MyWOT software as post-graduates at the Tampere University of Technology in Finland. They launched the service officially in 2007, with Esa Suurio as CEO. Suurio was replaced in November 2009, and both founders left the company in 2014.[3]

In 2009, MySQL founder Michael Widenius invested in WOT Services and became a member of the board of directors.[4] WOT Services is no longer a portfolio company of Widenius's venture capital firm, OpenOcean.vc.[5] In February 2016, WOT Services changed its name to TOW Software.[6]

WOT Services has partnerships with Mail.ru, Facebook, hpHosts, Legit Script, Panda Security, Phish tank, GlobalSign and TRUSTe.[7][8][9][10][11]

By November 2013, WOT Services had over 100 million downloads.[12]

WOT Services has made money by collecting browsing history data from its users and selling that usage data; it said that it anonymized the data before selling it.[13]

Sale of user-related data[edit]

In November 2016, a German state media investigation found that WOT Services had secretly collected personal user details and sold or licensed this information to unidentified third-party businesses and entities for data monetization purposes. This activity breached the privacy rules and guidelines set by several browsers. As a result, the browser add-on was involuntarily removed from Mozilla Firefox's add-on store, and voluntarily removed from other browsers' add-on/extension stores. WOT was eventually reinstated.

On November 1, 2016, German public broadcasting station NDR reported the results of an investigation by in-house journalists, showing that WOT collected, recorded, analyzed and sold user-related data to third parties.[14][15][16] The data obtained was traceable to WOT and could be assigned to specific individuals, despite WOT's claim that user data was anonymized.[17] The NDR investigative journalism report was based on freely available sample data, and revealed that sensitive private information of more than 50 users could be retrieved.[15] The information included websites visited, account names and email addresses, potentially revealing user illnesses, sexual preferences and drug consumption. The journalists also reconstructed a media company's confidential revenue data, and details about an ongoing police investigation.[14]

German media contacted WOT Services with the results of the investigation prior to publication of the report. WOT declined to comment on the findings.[14][15]

A few days after the news story aired, Mozilla removed the browser add-on from the Firefox add-on store.[18][19] WOT subsequently removed its browsing tool for other browsers, including Chrome and Opera.[20][13][21] The WOT "Mobile Security & Protection" mobile app was removed from Google Play, approximately one week after the extension was removed from the Google Chrome extension store.

In a blog post published on December 19, 2016, WOT Services stated that they had upgraded their browser extension, and released it in the Google Chrome extension gallery. The upgraded version included "several major code updates in order to protect our user's privacy and an opt-out option from the user Settings, for users who do not wish to share data with us but still want to have easy access to WOT."[22] In February 2017, Mozilla reinstated the MyWOT browsing tool in the Firefox add-on store.[23]

MyWOT addon[edit]

WOT Services offers an add-on for web browsers including Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, Internet Explorer and Baidu.[13] The extension rates websites based on their reputation score and provides end users with a red, yellow, or green indicator, with red meaning that the site has a poor reputation score.[20]


In February 2011, a lawsuit in Florida (United States) was filed against WOT and some of its forum members, demanding that WOT remove certain website ratings and associated comments cautioning about phishing scams.[24] The court dismissed the case with prejudice. In Germany, some preliminary injunctions were issued by courts, to delete feedback.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2.3 Third-party blacklists". WOT Help Center. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  2. ^ Vanetti, M.; Binaghi, E.; Ferrari, E.; Carminati, B.; Carullo, M. (February 2013). "A System to Filter Unwanted Messages from OSN User Walls". IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering. 25 (2): 285–297. doi:10.1109/TKDE.2011.230. hdl:11383/1730593. S2CID 15338868.
  3. ^ "Web of Trust (WOT) – Crowdsourced web safety". Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  4. ^ Modine, Austin (17 February 2009). "The Register — MySQL daddy juices Finnish security firm". Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  5. ^ "Portfolio — Previous Investments". OpenOcean. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  6. ^ "Yritys- ja yhteisötietojärjestelmä — Yrityshaku". tietopalvelu.ytj.fi (in Finnish). BIS Business Information System — YTJ. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  7. ^ "Facebook Security — Keeping You Safe from Scams and Spam". Facebook. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  8. ^ "Mail.Ru Group Launches New Browser Featuring Web of Trust Safe-Surfing Technology". reuters.com (Press release). Rocket Science PR. 8 August 2012. Archived from the original on 28 May 2014.
  9. ^ Schaffhauser, Dian (11 August 2009). "The Journal — Panda Security, Against Intuition Offer Free 'Web of Trust' Browser Addon". Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  10. ^ "Friends of PhishTank". Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  11. ^ "GlobalSign Partners with Web of Trust to Provide Reputation Data in the Website Passport". 15 March 2012. Archived from the original on 18 December 2014. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  12. ^ "Web of Trust hits 100 million Downloads Milestone". 12 November 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  13. ^ a b c Paul, Ian. "Web of Trust browser extensions yanked after proving untrustworthy". PC World. Retrieved 2016-11-20.
  14. ^ a b c Eckert, Svea; Klofta, Jasmin; Strozyk, Jan Lukas (2016-11-01). "Browser-Erweiterung gibt Daten weiter - 'Web of Trust' späht Nutzer aus" [Browser extension gives away user data - 'Web of Trust' spies on users] (in German). Tagesschau. Retrieved 2016-11-01.
  15. ^ a b c gru (2016-11-01). "NDR-Bericht über 'Web of Trust' - Beliebte Browser-Erweiterung spioniert offenbar Nutzer aus" [NDR report regarding 'Web of Trust' - Popular browser extension apparently spies on users] (in German). Spiegel Online. Retrieved 2016-11-01.
  16. ^ "Millionen Surf-Profile: Daten stammen angeblich auch von Browser-Addon WOT". heise online (in German). November 2016. Retrieved 2016-11-01.
  17. ^ "Daten zu Surfverhalten von Millionen Deutschen als "kostenlose Probe"". heise online (in German). November 2016. Retrieved 2016-11-01.
  18. ^ "Web of Trust (WOT) Add-on taken down by Chrome & Firefox". TWCN Tech News. 2016-11-05. Retrieved 2016-11-06.
  19. ^ "'Web Of Trust' Browser Extension Cannot Be Trusted". PCMAG. Retrieved 2016-11-06.
  20. ^ a b "WOT Safe Browsing Tool". Mozilla Addons. Retrieved 2016-11-20.
  21. ^ "To the WOT community | Forum | WOT (Web of Trust)". www.mywot.com. WOT Services Ltd. 2016-11-06. Retrieved 2016-11-15.
  22. ^ "We're back!". MyWOT Blog. 19 December 2016. Retrieved 2017-01-03.
  23. ^ "Web of Trust, MyWOT/WOT: Website Reputation Rating; Versions; Add-ons for Firefox". addons.mozilla.org. Mozilla. 6 February 2017. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  24. ^ Perälä, Vesa (24 February 2011). "Safe Surfing Tool Web of Trust Sued over Community Warnings". Helsinki: Vocus/PRWeb. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  25. ^ "WOT Wins Lawsuit In The US". ArcticStartup. 13 December 2011. Archived from the original on 7 January 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2011.