Few things in life are free.
There are hidden, extra charges in most services and products – everything from credit card terms and conditions to seemingly low-cost flights.
Free movies, games, trials and apps often come with a cost — and a nasty one at that.
Malware is often bundled in with free downloads, infecting your computer, tablet or phone with spyware, viruses and other undesirable software. And the worst part – you probably won’t know it until it’s too late.
But if you follow these tips, you may be able to minimize the risk.
- Use your firewall and ensure that you install your security software with the latest updates.
- The easiest way to do this is to organize it so that your operating system, internet browser, and security software automatically update.
Go to the source
- If you search for popular software, don’t just click on the first link. Check the URL and make sure it’s the legitimate website of that brand rather than an intermediary who may well direct you away from the main source.
- Treat websites that offer many PDF readers, browsers, and other well-known software for free with caution, as they are more likely to infect you with malware.
Don’t follow links that you don’t know
- If a stranger asked you to leave your house and follow them, would you do it? Links that lead you out of more reputable sites often have nefarious reasons for doing so.
- The legitimate sites have security checks that the scam artists often want to take you away from.
- Similarly, avoid banner ads or popups in general, but especially those that mention your computer’s health or performance. These are a well-known tool of scammers.
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
- There are a host of more legitimate places to download videos, games or music that users can be sure are free of malware.
- Websites such as Netflix offer the latest films and series for a relatively low monthly cost. YouTube has the largest amount of free videos on the web, from home videos to professionally shot documentaries (but be careful not to click on links to third-party sites that may feature in videos). TV app Redbox and music site Spotify allow you to stream conveniently while keeping your computer safe.
Beef up your security. Question the motive of websites that ask you to download things. Stick to sites you know and brands you trust.
Top Tip: Don’t click on anything that offers something for “free.”
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This information is provided for general consumer educational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax or investment advice.