Pat asks “What about Norton Safe Web?”

By | August 13, 2011
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Pat asks about Norton Safe Web
Can you tell me anything about “Norton Safe Web”? From what I’ve read it seems to be similar to WOT or MacAfee Site Advisor. From what you’ve told us about those two programs I’m wondering if this is the same thing. Also I’m not sure if I trust anything “Norton”! Thanks for your consideration on this and for all you do for all of us. Pat

Our answer
Hi Pat…and thanks. There’s no end to this “safe surfing” elixir market. The snake oil salesmen have returned from dust-bowl American and are once again selling (ostensibly giving away) free magic elixirs to quell every fear and calm every nerve. Why if you install Norton Safe Web you can venture off into the unknown reaches of the Internet in complete safety knowing that you’ve had your dose of safe-surfing elixir today. Step right up and get your free bottle of Norton (WOT, MacAfee, etc.) elixir and rid yourself of worry!

WOT and Norton Safe Web are based on the mass-rating phenomena that WOT started several years ago. The problem is that community-based ratings sound really good, but they’re really bad, because the people doing the rating ain’t no smarter than you or I. In fact, they may well be dumber than you or I – or they may be posting automated ratings by the thousands – just to see their name or nickname in lights. It’s a pretty barren life when your self-worth is determined by a platinum award from WOT for posting 100,000 site reviews in 30 days.

This is what Norton Safe Web has to say:

“Everyone knows that the Internet is huge, there are many online threats like viruses, phishing, and spyware, and there’s a lot of unsavory Web sites out there—Web sites that will try to deceive you, steal your credit card numbers or passwords, or even crash your computer. By the time you visit a Web site it’s usually too late The damage has been done, you’ve been had. So, how can you find out if a Web site is a safety risk before you visit it?

The answer is right here!

Norton Safe Web is a new reputation service from Symantec. Our servers analyze Web sites to see how they will affect you and your computer. Then, using the Norton Toolbar installed on your PC, we let you know how safe a particular Web site might be before you view it. If you need to find out more about how a Web site might behave, we provide more detailed information right here on Norton Safe Web….”

You have all the tools you need at your disposal for safe surfing. You don’t need to depend on a frenzied community of attention-starved yaks (WOT’s community has less than 100 member– out of “millions”– who make over 50% of the site reviews). You don’t need to install a browser toolbar or join a community or put  yourself in a position where you’ve given Norton or McAfee your email address and therefore have to withstand all the aggressive marketing emails offering you 50% of Norton 360 or McAfee. Or WOT’s insistence on the wonders of Panda security software.  All you need is the following:

1. Your common sense
2. An updated Web browser
3. A good, constantly updated anti-virus program
4. A good, constantly updated anti-spyware program
5. Your favorite search engine
6. Pay attention when you install software – read each dialog and uncheck any sneaky programs the installer might want to install.

That’s all you need. Your common sense is #1. Always make sure you’re using the latest version of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari – or whatever browser you choose. Keep your anti-virus and anti-spyware updated. If you have a question about a product or service – if something seems amiss – google it (or use your favorite search engine and search it).

You don’t need communities of people to tell you what’s safe and what’s not safe. Norton Safe Web would be preferable to WOT, but you don’t need either one. You don’t need a “safe-surfing toolbar” at all. You don’t need that magic elixir that promises to save you from the pits of Hades. Using these toolbars will keep you from some good sites too. It’s censorship. And like all censorship it is bad. Web filtering is the same as spam filtering – you’re letting someone else determine what is good for you and what is bad for you.

Don’t add things to your computer you don’t need. Don’t allow censorship toolbars to control where you go on the Web or what you download. You’re smart and you have all the tools you need to make the right choices. Trust yourself, not some anonymous community whose credentials are unknown.

One thought on “Pat asks “What about Norton Safe Web?”

  1. Muriel Schlecht

    Well said, TC. You have always advised us to use our own
    common sense. You have also encouraged us to ask questions when we needed clarification or were uncertain.
    You’ve always tried to point us in the right and safe direction. You’ve always emphasized that ultimately it’s our own choice which direction we choose to take once we have the correct and reasonable answers.

    Why so many choose to relinquish their rights to choose to the censorship of ISP’s and so-called “security suites”
    and instead, don’t stand up and “scream bloody murder” to insist that our elected officials and the appointed regulatory agencies do everything in their power to restore and preserve our freedoms is something I simply do not understand.

    The complacency is deafening.

    The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.
    ~Henry Steele Commager

    Censorship reflects society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime. ~Potter Stewart


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