What is our phones and computers without the files it has, that includes the apps, software, videos, movies, audios? Even the browser is an application. It is the files that make our devices so close to our hearts that we become addicted to it.
But while few of the files that include both audio, video, application and software come inbuilt with your devices, most of the trending stuff online needs to be downloaded. Talking about downloads, did you know that almost 80% of whatever you download from the internet can pose a threat to your device.
So, what do we do? Learn how to download a file safely from the internet. Learning this would require us to answer two questions- First, how do you know that the file you are downloading is a threat to your device? And second, how to avoid downloading threats? Let us answer each of the questions one by one.
How do you know that the file you are downloading is a threat to your device?
Who doesn’t love freebies? Knowing that the internet is full of them, our first instinct is to look for free movie downloads, free ringtones, free audio downloads, free apps, free software.
If we want to protect the private data stored in our devices, we need to forget the word free. Don’t be shocked. Most of the websites that allow and promote file downloads for free have been identified as malicious websites. But that doesn’t mean that you will need to pay for everything authentic. Basically, the source of the download matters. Which means the website that you are downloading from. The very reason why users are always recommended not to browse unauthorized websites like torrents and porn sites. These websites are known to be the hub of viruses. You will always find certain similarities between all malicious sites.
Characteristics Of Malicious Sites
- Redirects- One of the most common characteristics seen amongst the malicious websites are multiple redirects. Try to play an audio or a video, visit the next page, click on the download button or at times just click anywhere on the page, you will find yourself going somewhere unintended.
- Auto downloads- Another common thing on these type of websites are auto-downloads that starts from nowhere. One-click somewhere, especially on the banner ads and you are downloading something.
- Download Adobe Flash- There are times when you are suddenly redirected on a page that says that your Adobe Flash is outdated. It’s generally a good way to convince users to download the file seeing the name of Adobe on the page. Don’t fall for the trap.
- Warning!- Did you know that most of the anti-viruses available on the internet are viruses themselves? So, the warning that suddenly starts buzzing up your phone, alerting that your phone is in danger is a message from a virus.
- VPN Ads- Notice the ads. If you find VPN advertisements on the websites, exit the website right away because it is an indication that the website you are browsing is banned by the authorities Or Ads are being Served By Untrusted Ad Network.
While the above characteristics are common and can be avoided when you are simply browsing a website because you can exit them. But, when downloading you visit a certain website for a purpose and may not be willing to exit the website without completing the download. It may require a lot of will-power but exiting such websites as soon as possible is the best decision you can ever take. If you still don’t realize the depth of the issue, here is a list of effects that can happen when you download a corrupted file.
Effects of Virus on Your Device
- File damage
- Slow system
- Error messages
- Steal information like passwords, banking details, media files, etc.
- Log you out of the computer or your phone completely
Viruses can harm your computer like cancer, which is why so many steps are taken and suggested to keep your computers protected and safe.
Now that we know what kind of files can be of threat to our devices, let us find out the answer to the second question.
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How to avoid downloading junks?
In simple words, the answer would be by taking precautions.
Thankfully, there are several ways available that can be taken as precautionary measures.
The source was the first thing that we mentioned in the article and have mentioned it a number of times throughout the article. The reason is its importance. You must always avoid downloading anything from untrusted websites.
Solution? Find alternatives.
For movies and audios- There are many OTT apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, etc. that not only allow you to stream TV series and Movies safely but also download them. For Audio streaming and downloads, you can easily use apps like Gaana, Spotify, Saavn, etc.
For Apps & Software- Use Google Play, Apple Stores, Windows Store for downloading authenticated apps and software.
Browsing Malicious Websites-
The website you are browsing can be a home of viruses, and as mentioned above clicking about anywhere could get you infected. So it does not matter whether or not have you visited the website with the purpose of downloading something. There is not much in your hands.
Solution? Leave the websites.
- Attachments in Spammy emails-
Do not download any attachments from unknown or spammy emails. Most of these emails come with an attractive subject and email body that either offers a lot of money or free gifts. Beware! Because nothing comes for free in this world.
Solution? Do not download or open Spammy emails.
Executable files (.exe files)-
Be always cautious of executable files. When downloading a file from a website, use your mouse pointer to hover over the link. Notice the link that shows at the bottom-left corner of the screen. If the download link has an extension of .exe then the file in concern is an executable file and will run on your computer. Executable files have been known to pose the most amount of risk.
Solution? Do not download it. In case you have already downloaded a file. Keep an eye on the run prompt.
All downloaded files require your permission before installation. Thus, when the run prompt pops up, check the top of the pop-up for a Windows Security alert. Windows alert you when the file doesn’t contain a verified signature. Do not allow the installation. Instead, go to the location of the file and delete it right away.
Analyze Questionable Files-
There is another amazing way to find out whether the file you are about to download or have downloaded already in your system is malicious or not. Use VirusTotal.
Doubting the file you are trying to download or the authenticity of the website? Follow the steps to analyze it.
- Right-click on the download link and copy it.
- Open VirusTotal in a new tab on the browser.
- Now paste the link in the given space.
- And let the tool search the URL on the internet.
- The results will show you if the URL is malware or not.
- You can also upload a downloaded file on VirusTotal for a scan.
Hopefully, by now you have gained confidence and learned the right way to judge the authenticity of a file, and safely download any file from the internet. Though we are sure you have and are capable enough to keep your system protected, it is highly recommended to keep a good antivirus software installed in your system.
Call me Tech Enthusiastic, Entrepreneur & Promoter if You Like but I am none of these things. I have Been Gifted with Problem Solver Instincts & I am On Internet For 15 Hours a day. I Like Long Drives, Walks & Deep Conversation But Basically I am a Big Time Foodie. I may travel End of the World For Tasty Food. I Am the Co-Founder of Piracyleash.com & This is my Playground Now …Hoping to make this World Piracy free.