3 Ways to Ensure You’re Downloading Files Safely

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Downloading files is simply a part of life. We all have to do it, but not everyone knows how to do it safely. Cybercriminals have taken advantage of this and now it is too easy to download a virus straight onto your computer. Here are some tips for staying vigilant.

Understand what personal data is being collected

Did the site ask you to submit any information before accessing the file? Many websites require an email opt-in in order to receive a download and that is pretty common practice. However, if you’re noticing extra steps that need to be taken, you may start to question its legitimacy. There should be no reason to submit other personal information to get a simple file.

If the file is sent via email, consider the source. Is the email address it sent to you a jumbled mess of letters and not attached to a standard .com website? Many email platforms also have virus scanners within them that can tell you if the file is safe.

If the download is something you have to pay for, then it should be from a trusted website that you have set up an account with. Setting up an account with a website will allow the site to collect more personal data about you over time, however, trusted e-commerce sites should have the correct measures in place to protect their customers’ data. Many are required by law, after all.

Consider the source the download is coming from

With that said, how do you know the website you’re downloading from is a trusted source? There are a few things you can look at to decide. 

  • Does the website have an SSL certificate?
  • Does the website have a privacy policy?
  • Check website reviews.
  • Search for the Official Sources.
  • Check domain age.

Again, if the file comes from an email, be sure you trust the sender and check the address it is coming from.

Use a scanner

Your email platform should be able to scan files and will give you a warning message or an option to do this when you click on the file. We recommend using it as often as you can.

For a file from a website, there are many online scanner tools which you can copy the file download link into to check its safety.

At Point North Networks, we make it a goal to empower and educate employees about how to protect themselves from cybersecurity threats. Just contact us to learn more about our training and to add a trusted partner to your team that will protect your company from cybercriminals.