I used to think the last thing I needed was another browser toolbar. But now I gladly sacrifice a little screen real estate to find out who owns the sites I visit, where they're located, and whether they pass muster with the security checkers.
That's what you get with CallingID, an add-on for Internet Explorer and Firefox that adds a multi-hued toolbar to the browsers. Along with use of green, yellow, and red to signify the site's safety, the toolbar shows the owner and location of the site.
Whenever you attempt to enter a name and password to log into a site or transmit other private data, CallingID pops up a warning that you have to click through. Should you visit a site CallingID's 54 verification tests identifies as potentially dangerous, you have to click through a risk-assessment dialog box.
According to CallingID's security-rating system, sites that are Verified (green) have passed all 54 verification tests and have owners whose physical address is known. The yellow Low Risk rating indicates a site whose owners cannot be identified, or which are incorrectly registered. Known phishing sites and those that attempt to mask their identity merit the red High Risk rating.
When it comes to computer security, about the only thing you can count on is that right behind every new security tool is a tool that cracks it. I can't say using this toolbar will make your browsing any safer. I can't even promise you that it won't make browsing more dangerous by lulling you into a false sense of security.
I just get a kick out of seeing who owns the sites I visit.
Tomorrow: a new tool in the stealth-surfing arsenal.