The internet is all fun and games till you download a file from some website and your computer gets infected with malware and viruses. Internet security has become a huge priority, especially over the years. The viruses and malware are more dangerous than ever, and you should always go through this list of things to check before downloading stuff online.
List of Things to Check Before Downloading
This isn't an exhaustive list of things to do before you download. There are many things to check, but this will help you download better without putting your computer at risk.
You should always check official and verified sources whenever you look for something. For example, if you need something about Microsoft, you should first check the official Microsoft website. Do not look at third-party sources as your priority. You will be at the risk of downloading something malicious, but there is always a chance that you could be downloading pirated software and cause further problems for yourself.
Things to Check Before Downloading - SSL Certificate
An SSL certificate will establish an encrypted and secure connection between your browser and server. You should always check that whatever site you are downloading things from has an SSL certificate. Here is what you should do:
- Any site that you are visiting should start with HTTPS. Make sure of this.
- Another thing you should always check is if there is a lock sign next to the URL.
- Click on the lock sign. This will display a window, showing that the site is secure.
If you visit a site and instead of the lock, you see Not Secure, I suggest you stay away from the site and avoid downloading anything from it.
TLD or Top Level Domain is the .com, .org, .edu, etc., part of the URL. Hackers or fraudsters will often register their sites with a different TLD than the official site for something. For example, instead of opening the official Microsoft.com site, you may open a fake site for Microsoft with a different TLD. So, make sure that you are entering the correct TLD and downloading from a site with the correct TLD.
Things to Check Before Downloading - Domain Age
Even if a site possesses an SSL or a strong TLD, but you are still hesitant about it for whatever reason, you should look up the Domain age. Scam sites are usually sites are relatively new. Hence their domain ages are young. There are a ton of tools available for checking these details. However, you can try using who.is and check the details for whatever site you wish.
Using this site, you can get information like when it was registered, when it was last updated, etc. This will help you decide if you wish to download from the site or not. So, if you are downloading from a site that looks suspicious to you or if you have never heard of it before, checking the domain age is a good way to go.
You can always check for website reviews and see if other people have trusted their site and whether they regret their decisions or not. To do this, type allintitle: website name into the Google search engine and press Enter. This will give articles and reviews and more information regarding the site. If the site is a scam, you will most likely come across that information.
Online Scanner Tools
There are various online tools available that will help you scan a site for viruses and warn you if something should not be downloaded. Open the site for VirusTotal and paste the URL from which you will be downloading.
If there is anything suspicious, you will be informed immediately. You will get the CLEAN green signal if you are safe to go.
Popular file extensions like jpeg, png, pptx, etc., give you information about what kind of file you are downloading. If it is a jpeg, you know that you are downloading an image; if it is docx, you know it is a document. For software files, you usually get .exe. These are the most dangerous extensions, and you should never download such files from an unofficial source or any suspicious third-party site. You should also avoid .rar or .zip files from unauthentic sources as they may also contain malicious files.
Your firewall and antivirus should be turned on, especially when you are downloading things from the internet. Sometimes, when you are streaming things from not secure sites, viruses and malware can get downloaded accidentally. So, do not turn your antivirus off while you use the internet.
I hope these tips help you make better-downloading choices in the future. If you have any more tips for us, let us know in the comments below.
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