Check it or Wreck it!


Some web browsers today are pretty good at keeping us safe when navigating the web.

unnamedWhen you click on a site that has safety issues (i.e. phishing, malware, compromised sites), the browser you are using may warn you of a site’s poor reputation before you are directed to that particular website. While not all web browsers do this, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari currently utilize Google Safe Browsing to check for potential threats. While this is a good thing, it will only work for websites that are on Google’s Safe Browsing list. Would you visit a website if you knew it had been compromised? While most of us wouldn’t knowingly visit a site that could infect our computer, how do we know if a website is safe?

For a while now, I have had the habit of first checking a website’s reputation before visiting it to try and keep my machine safe and secure. You don’t have to install anything. Just copy and paste the web address in the appropriate field. You can check how a website rates, read what others have to say, and see if any red flags show up. Here is a list of recommended safe browsing services that I like to use and the highlights of each service:

WOT (Web of Trust)

  • unnamed-1A website’s reputation is based on users’ experiences and PhishTank – a third party source and anti-phishing site.
  • A site’s reputation score is broken down into two categories: “Trustworthiness” and “Child safety” with a confidence value to indicate how reliable the ratings are.
  • Websites are ranked according to their popularity in the last 30 days (a posted date shows when this list was last updated).

Norton Safe Web

  • unnamed-2Uses an automated process to analyze websites and relies on community feedback.
  • Has a list of latest reviews, latest threats, and most reviewed sites.
  • Reanalyzes websites frequently for reevaluation.

Google Safe Browsing

  • unnamed-3Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari web browsers use Google Safe Browsing to check for threats.
  • According to Google, approximately one billion users use their safe browsing service.
  • To use this service, simply copy and paste the URL after the equal sign at the end of the Google Safe Browsing address and refresh your browser (e.g.

Virus Total

  • unnamed-4Shows if a URL has already been analyzed and when it was last analyzed.
  • According to VirusTotal they aim to be a free, objective, and unbiased service.
  • The mecca of safe browsing sites – it uses over 50 different scan services.

Now if you really want to be thorough, you can check all the sites mentioned above on all the sites mentioned above (or other safe browsing sites that you may know of) but maybe I’m alone on this one. Checking website reputations won’t replace a good security application but it could be a useful addition to your security toolbox. Also, if you are an owner of a website, it would be a good idea to see how your site rates.  See what others are saying about your site and verify if there are any security issues with your site that you may not be aware of.

Which safe browsing service do you use?

Isaac Wong
Project Manager