Trust or not to trust? Web of Trust makes a profit by selling user data

Noticed that your inbox is crowded with personalized ads from unknown online companies? Such phenomenon is not surprising if you have been using Web of Trust (WOT) browser plug-in. The only problem is that it completely failed to perform its mission – to secure your online identity. The plug-in was detected selling the compiled data about users’ browsing preferences with third parties. What may be the outcomes of such data breach?

The investigation conducted by Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) reveals that more than 140 million of users‘ data might have been sold to third parties. It is an especially astonishing fact if we take a look at the extension‘s promoted privacy policy. In the document, it is stated that browsing data, such as your frequently visited web pages, search entries, geographical location, IP address, and technical information of your operating system, might be collected. However, they mention possible data transfer to external parties:

(…)we are not aware of the identity of the user from which the Non-Personal Information is collected. We may disclose or share this information with third parties as specified below and solely if applicable.

What is worse, personal information might have fallen into the amount of collected data as well. Experts disclose their concerns that the non-personal data is easily traceable to its owners. In short, full name, shipping as well as email address, current criminal proceedings, and personal preferences might have mixed up with technical data. Though the policy includes the possibility of sharing your non-personal data, there is no mention of selling it.

It is unknown how much revenue the developers of an extension have already received out of such trade deal. One the worst outcomes of such occurrence are that the data might have been transferred to cyber criminals. Taking into account the recent activity of Cerber, such probability is even more alarming. Unfortunately, there are multiple similar browser extensions which claim to guarantee utmost security and protection of the data while, in reality, might be sharing it with unknown online companies. Anonymity and privacy protection are becoming more and more relevant issues; at the same time, it becomes more difficult to retain them browsing the Web. On the final note, you may reduce the risk of such data leak if you carefully research the tools and software before downloading and installing them.

About the author
Julie Splinters
Julie Splinters - Anti-malware specialist

Julie Splinters is the News Editor of 2-spyware. Her bachelor was English Philology.

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