Seems pretty obvious, but it clearly happens all the time.   One step you can take is to be very very careful of the pop windows and dialog boxes asking for confirmation to install software.

So apply a little common sense. If you are not installing anything, don’t say yes to prompts like this:

UAC Prompt

And like you see in the prompt above, this is from Microsoft. So beware of publishers you don’t recognize too.

And only download software from sites that are trusted and have an https URL. More on that later.

If you’re not sure where to find legitimate software, look it up at CNET’s Download.com:

https://download.cnet.com

Download.com Home Page

Beware of other sites. CNET actually owns the domain download.com but there are sites that spoof them, as anyone can a subdomain called “download”. For example, look out for something like download.unknownsite.com

Once you are on Download.com, you can search for the software in question. CNET does a good job of scanning for viruses and spyware.

And we also recommend that you look at the reviews. Of course, understand that one person saying it doesn’t work is not a sign that the software is bad. There are a number of reasons why software installs fail. But if a significant number of people complain about the software, you can pretty much know to be careful about installing it.

For reference, here’s the listing for Google Chrome:

http://download.cnet.com/Google-Chrome/3000-2356_4-10881381.html

download.com Google Chrome

25 million downloads (just from CNET alone) is a pretty good indication that the software is popular. 5 stars from the Editors is also a great sign. Plus 3100 votes averaging nearly 4 stars is also a good sign.   And it’s no surprise that Chrome has an Editor’s Review.

Finally, while some download pages instruct you to Run or Open the download file, as much as possible Save the file to your computer. Then scan it. If you want to be careful, update your antimalware software, before scanning it. Arguably, if you really want to be cautious, wait a day or two for your antimalware software developer to push the latest malware definitions to their updates…and then scan it.

At any rate, we hope these tips keep you safe!

#OnlineThreats is an ongoing series of social media posts with the aim of informing everyone using the internet about common dangers. The net is a wonderful place and many threats can be avoided with just a few precautions. Think of it as going into a city. There are cool sights, fun things to do, and great places to eat. But if you’re not careful, you can get into serious trouble. Still, that doesn’t stop you from going there. Otherwise, the bad guys will have won. Same with the internet!

Over time, you’ll be able to check on the entire list of online threats by going to our blog and clicking on the category, Computing Security. You can always find a shortcut here: http://t2d.la/security