The internet’s great, isn’t it? Infinite variety and everything you want is just a click away – what’s not to love?! Well, as many of us have experience first hand, sadly all that glitters is not necessarily gold on the World Wide Web, so it pays to be cautious – especially if you’re looking to download software or any other type of file that’s easily available.

Free downloads are often used by cybercriminals as proverbial gingerbread houses to lure in unsuspecting internet users. However, once the files have been downloaded and executed, their insidious true nature as malware is revealed, and the security of the user’s computer is compromised.

The ability to assess the legitimacy of a source before you download software is a crucial skill to possess in the modern IT landscape.

Protect yourself from dubious downloads with our handy guide to staying safe online. 

Check and double check before you hit install.

Dig a Little Deeper

Many sites from which you can download software have a comments section. Previous users will often leave a comment to inform other users as to the quality of downloads. Take a moment to peruse the comments and see what the community is saying.

If there is no comments section, it’s usually very easy to find developer information. Have a little look around the site until you find the developer name and company details. You can then Google the company in question and see if they are reputable. If they are a regular proliferator of malware, they will likely be a topic of discussion on various IT forums.

Use a Trusted Software Download Website

At the end of the day, the best way to avoid ending up with dodgy files is to only download software from a trusted source. FileHippo has an enormous library of free software download options which have all be thoroughly vetted.

Your first port of call should be to download one of the robust antivirus packages from FileHippo. That way, all software will be scanned for malicious content giving you further protection should you accidentally download the wrong thing.

Please let us know in the comments if you’ve had any run-ins with dodgy downloads, and any important lessons you’ve learned as a result.