TrustWatch & MSN Offer Anti-Phishing Tools To Searchers & Surfers

TrustWatch is a new Ask Jeeves-powered search engine designed to give you a green, yellow or red light warning on whether to trust pages listed in its results. It follows on the release of an anti-phishing add-on for users of the MSN Search toolbar.

At TrustWatch, the warnings are to help you know if you are reaching a fake site or one that's "phishing" for you to reveal personal information.

For example, imagine you were trying to reach the Bank Of America site. It's possible that someone might create a site that looks like the real BofA site and ranks well for a search on the company's name. A good search engine shouldn't let this happen, but it still can occur. Even more likely, it can happen if you search using a slight misspelling.

TrustWatch places colored rating icons next to each listing. Green means the listing has been verified as real and trustworthy by a third party. Yellow means there's been no verification, but neither has the site been reported on a blacklist. Red means someone has reported a site as disreputable and that you shouldn't trust it.

Run a web site and want to be trusted? GeoTrust, the company behind TrustWatch, will conveniently sell you a site identity seal for $49 per year. You can also get a trust rating from one of the other companies that it lists, including TRUSTe. I wish the page TrustWatch lists with these organizations made it exceptionally clear exactly which products each of these companies are selling are acceptable, especially what the lowest cost options are.

I can understand that site owners probably should pay to be rated. Someone's got to do the reviewing. But it shouldn't be super expensive. Plus, non-profits and governmental groups should get a break. Of course, I see the US White House site is considered trusted, and I'm betting they didn't pay for a review.

Want to know if something is trustworthy as you surf the web? There's a TrustWatch toolbar you can install that lights up to let you know if a site is trusted when you visit it.

That brings me over to news from earlier this month. Microsoft has a Phishing Filter Add-In for its MSN Search Toolbar. Like TrustWatch's, it's only for Internet Explorer, unfortunately. It will block sites that are on known phishing lists and warn you of sites that it suspect may be phishing based on scanning for common characteristics.

Having these features in toolbars is great, of course. In fact, I'm guessing we'll see Ask Jeeves down the line add TrustWatch-powered warnings to its toolbar since it's partnering to provide TrustWatch with search results. But it would be nice to see anti-phishing warnings in the results of the major search engines, as well.

I mean, the Ask Jeeves blog today is what alerted me and others to the new TrustWatch service. Rather than have Ask Jeeves point me elsewhere, I obviously want them to put these features into their own search results. Same, too, with MSN. Give phishing warnings in the search results, as well as in the toolbar. And let's see Google and Yahoo do the same.

Want to discuss? Visit our forum thread, Powers TrustWatch - GeoTrust's Secure Engine.