Downloading files from an online source is an activity we perform daily. But have you ever wondered how safe downloading files from online sources is? Mostly, we don’t think twice before downloading a file from the internet. We just click the download button and wait for the file to download. However, we should know that it’s an unsafe practice.
Malicious actors find new ways to exploit vulnerabilities. Therefore, being safe online has become a necessity, especially when it comes to downloading files. So, how can you download files safely from the internet?
This article illustrates some of the best methods that you can use to download files safely from online sources.
What is the need for safe download?
Internet connections facilitate instant information delivery and depending on your internet speed, downloads can also happen in an instant. We just click on the ‘Download’ button and get the file. Sometimes, we might pay no attention to the software developers or the sites distributing it. Furthermore, we might go for exclusive content that hackers can use as bait to trick users into installing malware.
However, this approach is unsafe as many dangers are associated with downloading files from unknown or untrusted sources. The most typical threat you can face while downloading files is malware infection.
Malware is known as a kind of malicious software that can infect your device and cause severe damage. Once the device is infected with malware, it can steal your personal information, delete important files, and even give hackers access to your device. In some cases, malware can also render your device unusable.
Moreover, there are many other threats that you can face while downloading files from the internet, such as phishing attacks, viruses, spyware, and adware. Therefore, it is crucial to take some precautionary measures to ensure your safety while downloading files.
Security researchers also emphasize the dangers of free downloads. It refers to content or programs you can get without paying a dime. Before you follow through with such download and installation, check whether the provider is trustworthy. Of course, many free applications for your computer or smartphone are benign. Your job is to figure out which software you can trust.
How can you download files safely?
There are a few easy steps that you can take to download files safely from online sources.
Use a reliable and trusted source
The first and foremost is to ensure that the source from which you are downloading the file is reliable and trustworthy. There are many untrustworthy websites on the internet that host malicious files. So, checking the website’s authenticity before downloading any file is essential. You can check the authenticity of a website by looking for reviews or testimonials from other users. You can also verify if the website has a valid SSL certificate or not. If the website does not use HTTPS, it is likely untrustworthy.
Use an antivirus program
Another step that you can take to download files safely from online sources is to use an antivirus program. Antivirus programs help to protect your device from malware and other malicious software. They scan the files before downloading them and block the malicious ones. So, installing a good quality antivirus program on your device is vital before downloading any file from the internet.
If you download a file or software, you should always scan them. It will help you determine whether the application does not hide potentially malicious behavior.
Use Virtual Private Networks
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is another way of ensuring your safety while downloading files. VPNs encrypt the internet connection and mask your IP address. They use robust encryption, which is practically unbreakable.
Moreover, a VPN for PC also helps to bypass geo-restrictions. So, you can download files from any website, regardless of your location. However, bear in mind to check whether the downloads you wish to get come from reputable sources. Some VPNs also feature website-blocking capabilities, preventing you from visiting potentially malicious websites.
Look at the file extensions
When you download a file, make sure to check the file extension. File extensions help you to identify the type of file. For example, .exe files are executable files that can run programs. So, downloading an executable file from an untrustworthy website can infect your device with malware. Therefore, scanning such files and being extra careful while downloading with unknown or suspicious file extensions is vital.
Additionally, you should avoid opening email attachments with unknown or suspicious file extensions. These attachments can also be infected with malware. So, always think twice before downloading it.
Not only executables are dangerous
You might assume that only .exe files can negatively affect your device. However, even Microsoft Office or PDF files have the potential to affect your computer or smartphone. For instance, PDFs might not be malicious on their own. Instead, they might initiate backdoors and facilitate the arrival of viruses. In other cases, PDFs can have other files embedded within them.
So, it is important to understand that any file download might result in a malware infection. For instance, you might receive malicious Word documents as email attachments. Whatever you do, do not download/open them without checking their security.
Scan the download link online
Another way of downloading files safely is to scan download links online. Various download link verifying sites on the internet allows you to do so. You need to enter the URL of the file you want to download, and it will scan it for any malicious content. If the website finds malicious content in the file, it will block the download.
These are a few recommendations that you can follow to download files or software safely from online sources. Following these steps can protect your device from malware and other threats. Also, always keep your senses open while downloading files from the internet. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t download the file. Better be safe than sorry. So, always be careful while downloading files from the internet. Your computer or smartphone will thank you!