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Dubious Downloads: How to Check If A Download is Malicious?



We all heard the horror stories – you download an email attachment, and before you know it, you are greeted with a ransomware message, telling you to pay up, or all of your precious data is lost for good.

But, the reality is that most downloads aren’t harmful. Yet, how can you tell, is there a way to know if the file you’re about to download is malicious? This article will tell you more about that, informing you how to stay safe.

Check Where Are You Downloading From

Before even attempting to download anything, check the website or the sender’s email address carefully

Hackers often try to manipulate you into thinking they are legitimate companies, with domain names and email addresses mimicking real ones. They will often misspell words or use different domain extensions (replacing .com with .company) to trick you into thinking the email address or website is real. If you fall for it and download a file from their email or website, you risk malware infections.

Therefore, carefully look at the URLs and email addresses. Government email addresses end with .gov (for example, for US State Department). Beware, gov.state isn’t the same as, which is exactly how hackers trick you into opening something you shouldn’t. 

Scan Every File Before And After Downloading 

TotalAV uses real-time protection that automatically monitors every file you open and every website you visit or email you get. However, when you download the file, re-check it again by using a manual scan. That is the best way to make sure you haven’t downloaded anything dangerous. 

Use Only Reputable Sources

Some sites are known for spreading malware, which is why their URLs are blocked by default with the TotalAV SafeSite feature. But, that doesn’t mean that every site you can access is safe. 

When downloading anything, always try to go to the official website or store first. Also, read reviews and double-check to make sure the file you are trying to download is legitimate. Downloading from official websites is always a much smarter option than using links you found on a random forum post.

Don’t Open Links In Emails – Google For The File Yourself

If someone sends you a zipped archive containing an executable of a program you want to use, don’t download it. Instead, go to Google, find the official website, and download the program directly if you have to use it. 

The reason why is that people share malware without realizing it. If your friend’s computer is infected, malware can end up in an email you receive from them. That’s why you should take precautions and scan everything no matter who is sending you files.


Downloading files will always carry a risk, but if you are careful enough and have a reliable antivirus solution, there’s no reason to panic.

TotalAV will keep your information protected in real-time, checking every site you visit and every file you are about to download, making sure nothing slips by. That will allow you to browse safely and download files without risks, knowing you are protected.