How to Make Sure a File Is Safe Before Downloading It
April 10, 2022

How to Make Sure a File Is Safe Before Downloading It

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Malware header.
Kanoktuch/Shutterstock.com

Should you’re involved a file could be malicious, you don’t must obtain it and depend on your antivirus. You may scan the file for malware with over 90 antivirus engines earlier than you obtain it—all with one single device.

RELATED: Basic Computer Security: How to Protect Yourself from Viruses, Hackers, and Thieves

That is no substitute for basic online security practices that may hold you secure from phishing and different threats, however it’s a method to carry out a extra in-depth verify if you happen to’re involved a few file.

Scan a Hyperlink For Malware Utilizing VirusTotal

To do that, you’ll must find a file’s obtain hyperlink. That’s the direct hyperlink to obtain the file, not simply the deal with of the file’s obtain web page. For instance, if you wish to scan a .exe file, you’ll want the direct hyperlink to the .exe file. If you wish to scan a .doc file, you’ll want the direct hyperlink to the .doc file. You may spot this by mousing over the hyperlink and searching on the deal with in your browser.

CCleaner download page.

Proper-click the hyperlink and choose “Copy hyperlink deal with” in Chrome, “Copy Hyperlink Location” in Firefox, or “Copy hyperlink” in Edge.

Right-click the download link, then click "Copy Link Address."

Subsequent, head to VirusTotal.com in your internet browser. This device has been owned by Google since 2012.

Click on the “URL” tab on the web page after which paste the hyperlink you copied into the field. Click on the search button or press Enter to scan the file.

Paste the download link into the VirusTotal website.

VirusTotal will obtain the file you specified to its servers and scan it with numerous completely different antivirus engines. If different folks have just lately scanned the file, VirusTotal will present you the latest scan outcomes.

Should you see “No engines detected this URL”, that implies that none of VirusTotal’s antivirus engines mentioned there was an issue with the file.

Replace: As of April 2022, VirusTotal now has greater than 90 antivirus engines obtainable.

The “0/65” means the file was detected as malicious by 0 of VirusTotal’s 65 antivirus engines. This implies it needs to be clear. After all, it’s attainable that new and unique malware will not be detected by any antivirus packages but, so it’s at all times a good suggestion to watch out and solely get software program from sources you belief. (The truth is, not two days after publishing this text, our instance file—CCleaner 5.33—was found to contain malware. An ideal instance of how VirusTotal, whereas helpful, isn’t excellent!)

VirusTotal results with no malware detected.

If one of many antivirus engines detects an issue with a file, you’ll see a word saying that plenty of antivirus engines detected the URL as an issue.

VirusTotal results with only 3/65 engines detecting some kind of malware.

In some instances, the opinion could also be close to unanimous. In different instances, only some antivirus instruments could have an issue with the file. This is usually a false optimistic, although in sure circumstances it might be that some antivirus instruments have noticed new malware earlier than others. You may scroll right down to see which antivirus instruments had an issue with the file, view extra particulars concerning the file, and see group feedback about whether or not the URL is secure or not. (In some instances, for instance, it could simply be flagged for together with bundled crapware, which is well bypassable.)

A breakdown listing engine-by-engine results.

If you find yourself scanning a file obtain web page as an alternative of the downloaded file itself, you’ll see a “Downloaded file” hyperlink on the VirusTotal web page. Click on the icon to the appropriate of “Downloaded file” to see extra evaluation concerning the file that internet web page downloads.

If you don't point it at a specific file, it'll try to find one, and then show you the file it checked.

Combine VirusTotal Into Your Browser

To make this course of simpler, the VirusTotal mission presents browser extensions. These will combine VirusTotal into your browser, permitting you to right-click a hyperlink on any internet web page and choose a “Scan with VirusTotal” choice. You received’t have to go to the VirusTotal web site and copy-paste a hyperlink.

Extensions can be found for Google ChromeMozilla Firefox, and Internet Explorer. Should you’re trying to set up the VirtusTotal extension for Microsoft Edge, that you must enable Google Chrome extensions in Edge, after which set up the Google Chrome model. Obtain the suitable extension and you’ll right-click a hyperlink and choose the VirusTotal choice to shortly scan it and see the outcomes.

The right-click option added by the extension.

If VirusTotal is unanimous {that a} file is harmful, it is best to keep away. If the outcomes are blended, you ought to be cautious, however you might wish to study the extra detailed antivirus outcomes to see why they are saying the file is harmful.

If a file is clear, meaning it’s not detected by any antiviruses as malware. That doesn’t imply it’s secure, after all—antivirus software program isn’t excellent and will not detect new malware, so make sure you’re getting your packages from a trusted supply.

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