Subject to copyright laws, the internet is a treasure chest of downloadable freebies including games, music, movies and, of course, Linux distros.
As I’m sure you are aware, free = popular and popular = big target.
That’s why so much free software and so many movie files come with unexpected bonuses – malware.
If you blindly download every file you come across then sooner, rather than later, your system will become infected with a virus, worm, spyware or something else equally nasty.
Here’s some tips on how to download those chunky Linux files without picking up any additional nasty surprises –
Check The Site Out
This is so obvious yet I doubt many people do it.
Is the site that you are downloading from reputable?
Have you visited the site before and downloaded files without any issues?
Check that the web address, the part between the http:// and the .com/,edu/.org matches that which is shown in the URL bar found on your browser so that you will know if you have been redirected to an alternative location which may be attempting to appear as a different site, one you may otherwise trust.
Check The File You Are Downloading
Before downloading any file from the internet there are some simple checks you can do to get an idea of whether you will be getting what you expect.
Check the size of the file to see if it seems to be in the correct range, i.e. a DVD movie is typically 4.5gb or thereabouts.
If the file is significantly smaller than that then you probably shouldn’t download it.
Also, check that the file extension matches what you are downloading – a movie file may, for example, have a .mpg extension.
File extensions that you ought to be wary of include .exe, .com, .vbs and .scr amongst others.
If you are about to download a file with one of those extensions then remember that it might be unsafe.
Invest In A Good Internet Security Package
Everyone needs to have a good internet security package on their system.
Most of the better brands these days come with features that go beyond anti-virus protection and include anti-phising programs, spam blockers and anti-spyware measures in order to protect you from malware infested sites and files.
Once you have gone to the expense and trouble of buying such a package you need to do yourself a favour and keep it updated at all times.
I know far too many people who install an anti-virus program, forget about it forever more, and then complain that their machine has been infected.
Knew viruses, designed to get around existing protection measures, are written each and every day and that is why your security vendor sends out new definitions on such a regular basis.
Keep Your Antivirus Program Running At All Times
Another critical error I’ve seen a few of my friends make is turning their antivirus program off.
They claim that doing so speeds up their computer and leads to faster downloads.
Whilst that may be true in the short term it will, and has, proved to be their undoing in the longer term as it opens the door for all sorts of malicious junk to get onto their system which ultimately slows their computers to a crawl.
Learn from their mistake and keep your top antivirus program running at all times.
By keeping your antivirus program running you will be ensuring that any downloads will be passed as being safe, or blocked, depending upon what they really contain.
If you are notified that you are attempting to download a rogue file then pay attention and don’t download it anyway – it will save you an awful lot of time if you find another source for the file instead of having to sort out multiple problems after your computer has become infected.
Increase Browser Protection
Most browsers, such as Firefox and Internet Explorer, have a certain level of security protection built into them which can go a long way to preventing malicious files from getting onto your system.
Have a look around the options they offer as most browsers allow you to set varying levels of security and you can often tweak and alter a large number of individual settings to suit your own browsing habits.
Update Your Downloading Software
If you are downloading large numbers of files on a regular basis then you are probably utilising some sort of program in the process.
just like your anti-virus program this will probably need updating on a regular basis so make sure you keep up with all the updates.
Download programs and managers will often throw a popup window your way when they need some attention so be sure to look out for that and act upon it swiftly in order to keep yourself as secure as possible.
You can find a huge amount of interesting files on the internet but downloading them can put your computer and yourself at risk.
Have fun but stay safe too!