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Downloading software or files from an unknown source can be just as risky as entering your information into a phishing email. It is extremely important to take precautionary measures to avoid downloading harmful files that could damage your business.
Here are five ways to steer clear of malware when downloading software:
1. Research the program. Type the name of the program into your search engine, and try to find any helpful information regarding the downloadable file. Read everything from basic consumer reviews to tech expert opinions. Valuable information can also be found by searching credible download sites like Softpedia, FileHippo, and Major Geeks.
2. Try to download directly from the site of the publisher. Even though you may have just researched the program on the sites mentioned above, also check out the site of the publisher to complete the download process. This way, you can be sure that you are getting the most up-to-date and safest version of the software. If the publisher sends you to a third-party downloader, then it is okay to assume that you are safe from malware.
3. Scan the file before you install it. When you download a file, your antivirus program will automatically scan it. You should perform a second scan just to be safe, and preferably with a different malware detector in order to cross-reference the scans.
4. Don’t let mixed scan results confuse you. If one scan tells you that the program is clean and the other says that it is infected with malware, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. Mistakes can be made by antivirus software, so do a search on any potential malware mentioned to see if it produces a high level of false positives or contact your network support team to validate your results.
5. Be careful downloading potentially unwanted programs (PUPs). If the scan shows that the program may be accompanied by other “unwanted” programs, you should take the time to read through all of the install information and uncheck any boxes or options that mention other “necessary” programs. The process will be tedious and may seem a bit confusing, so if you run into any questions contact your IT support.
Although it may seem like a waste of time to take these extra steps, think about the alternative. A few extra minutes is not worth disrupting your business’s ability to operate. For more information and tips about healthy computing check out our blog post: Common Viruses and Healthy Habits to Avoid Them.
If you are still unsure whether or not your downloads come from a reputable source, check with your network administrator or contact your local helpdesk support team.