Tips for safe downloading

In the ever-growing era of the Internet, one thing that grabs a user’s attention is downloading. Unfortunately, whenever someone downloads a file, whether the file is a spreadsheet, a cool screen saver, or music from someone else’s computer, they put their computer at risk.
The easiest way to keep from getting infected is prevention. Keeping these five things in mind before surfing the web and downloading can help keep a user from getting a nasty virus:

• Firewalls– while this may be a worry off campus and at home, Northwest Missouri State University uses its own firewall to help prevent unwanted software from reaching our network. If there is a concern about the campus firewall or any questions about it, please contact Kyra Mills.

• Antivirus protection– thanks to the university, all campus machines come loaded with basic antivirus software. Personal machines must have some form of antivirus software to be in compliance with campus computing policies. Download.com has some great free downloads such as AVG-Free and Malwarebytes.

• Spyware– most antivirus packages today are built with anti-spyware. Again, Malwarebytes is a great anti-malware/spyware tool.

• Software updates– regular updates to Windows help protect computers against new viruses and other security threats.

• Email spam filters– while Microsoft Outlook and other programs have a decent spam filter, they will not catch everything, so avoiding opening strange emails is always a wise decision. Northwest will NEVER ask for anyone’s username, password, or 919# via email. If an e-mail like this is received, please do not delete it and report the e-mail to a PERT or show it to a Client Computing Consultant located on the first floor of the B.D. Owens Library.

While the above are all recommended steps, one must face the fact that in day-to-day lives, downloading documents and other information is a must, whether it is for school or for pleasure. Here are a few suggestions to make the downloading experience a little safer:

• Beware of fraudulent messages– do not click on links or open attachments unless the source is 100% safe. Simply click the “X” at the top of the window and close it if a pop-up appears.

• Only download from reputable sites– be cautious about downloading from unknown sites and sources. Downloads from these sites can possibly carry viruses and malware that piggyback on the download.

• Install and use file-sharing cautiously– when file-sharing is used, some files, or even the entire hard-drive are available to others and are easy ways for someone to plant malicious software on the computer.

• Save files for safer downloads– when downloading a file, save it first and then scan it with antivirus software before opening it. If it contains damaging code, antivirus software should be able to detect it and remove it before it can do any damage.

Following these tips will not guarantee complete protection from viruses or malware, but they are good guidelines to follow to help keep devices safe while browsing and downloading form the internet. Much of the above information was taken from a Microsoft Security article, found at the following link:

Microsoft basics for safer downloading

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