We’ve discussed a great deal about viruses, computer hackers, and staying safe on the internet, but one thing we haven’t touched on is how to know if something is safe to download. Have you ever tried to open an article or a video, and were told you needed to download Adobe to do so? The multiple screens that pop up and ask you to “ok” things can be a little overwhelming, and cause panic and fear that you might be opening your domain to something unsafe- but if you don’t download the program, you are unable to continue on with your work (or game) as you had hoped.
With that being said, let’s chat a bit about how you can tell whether something is safe to download, or if it has potential to crash your computer.
Start with assessing what it is you are downloading. Is it something you can’t live without? And is it something that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to have your mom, child, or neighbor see? That’s always a key piece of information in regards to whether your download is safe. If it’s illegal or suspicious looking, chances are it’s dangerous.
Next, check the site. If there isn’t much effort put into the layout of the site, chances are there wasn’t a ton of effort put into the security of it either. Sites that have a “basic” layout can be the first red flag, because they may mean “here today, gone tomorrow”… Which goes for your files as well.
Then, let’s look at who you are downloading from. Is it a legit company that most people have heard from? Or does it have a combination of too many vowels and consonants that aren’t regularly found in alphabet soup? Aside from who you are downloading from, also look at who else has downloaded it. Some sites have a forum that is attached, and a number of people saying they’ve downloaded said file- with OUT any problems. That? That’s a great sign the download is safe.
You know the saying “size doesn’t matter”? Well, it does. If the file is small- like too small for what it’s supposed to be, then it’s junk.
Want to know a secret? These “codes”: ‘.exe’, ‘.bat’, ‘.pif’, ‘.scr’ are pretty much code for virus. If you have a virus checker, use that baby. If not, be careful. Also, be on the lookout for a ‘double extension’ such as ‘.gif.exe’ trying to trick you into thinking it’s a ‘.gif’.
And lastly, check for a license. Most times you will see a license warning open on your screen- if the program is unlicensed, there’s a great chance this program is a threat to your computer. Not always, but more than likely.
Of course, if all else fails, and you DO download something you shouldn’t.. We happen to know a few people that could help. ;)