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Apr
16
2009

Reflections of a HauteSecure Toolbar Early Adopter

I first encountered Haute Secure back in June of 2007 when I was given an Alpha build of their toolbar to play with – in fact, I was the first non-Haute Secure person to be allowed to try out the x64 version of the toolbar.

I remember that I thought the toolbar was a fantastic idea and wished it every success, most especially because of Haute Secure’s decision to focus on the emerging risks introduced by user generated content (aka Web 2.0) that were infiltrating social networking sites, blogs, search engines, widgets, banner ads and whatnot.

So you can imagine how pleased I was when I was told that TRUSTe and Haute Secure were joining forces; it is a coming together of two great goals in my life, which are:

  • to acknowledge and encourage good behavior; to rehabilitate, support and guide companies in the transition from bad netizen to good netizen, and to offer a chance at redemption and forgiveness, while at the same time maintaining a framework to discipline offenders
  • to protect the end user from the bad guys by stopping the bad guys from being able to get to potential victims in the first place (instead of always cleaning up computers after the bad guys have had their way)

I admit that I was saddened by the fact that Haute Secure has discontinued the Beta trial of the Haute Secure Toolbar and will end support for the toolbar in the next 60 days. I even felt, for a while, like we were abandoning the end user by taking the toolbar away from them and I suspect that some of you out there may be feeling the same way.

Haute Secure does a marvelous job protecting the user from malicious content out on the Internet – of that there is no doubt – but the toolbar was only able to protect the end user if they downloaded and installed software on their computer, and that put a finite limit on its effectiveness. By focusing its efforts on its offering for web sites that are at risk of being used as an avenue to infect computers, Haute Secure will be able protect *every single visitor* to any web site that chooses to take advantage of TRUSTE’s new security scanning, reputation services and anti-malware protection offerings without the end user having to do anything to get the benefit of that protection. Bearing in mind the fact that TRUSTe currently certifies over 3,000 web sites, I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that we could end up protecting millions of people from malicious content on the internet.

So, even though I mourn the demise of the Haute Secure toolbar, I am very excited about the good that TRUSTe and Haute Secure can do together. It is critically important that all Internet users protect themselves as well as they can by installing, and regularly updating, reputable antivirus and antispyware software, and by making sure that all of the software on their computers is fully patched, but I also believe that the the owners of Web sites should do all that they can to protect their visitors from danger. Social engineering can bypass the protection offered by even the best antivirus and antispyware software, and it doesn’t matter how well patched a computer is if its operator is tricked into installing something. We need to do all that we can to ensure that people are not exposed to danger in the first place.

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