If you download a file, scan it with your antivirus program before running it. If you have questions about whether your computer is compromised or if the sites you’re visiting are safe, contact us and we’ll help you!
Sharing music, movies and software online is illegal in most cases unless it has been released by the owner to the public domain. Illegal file sharing is usually done via software (such as Limewire, Frostwire, Bearshare) that accesses the content on a file sharing site. These programs aren't illegal themselves but they are most often used illegally.
People on the Internet upload files to websites (like ThePirateBay or IsoHunt) for other people to download. This is illegal because when you purchase a CD or DVD your rights to that product are for your personal use. In the case of software you get a license to use that program, but it cannot be “shared” to other people. The risk of infection can come from ads that are hosted on the site, files that have been infected by the people uploading them (the uploader got them from who knows where, or perhaps infected them on purpose) or from security lapses in the website itself. So not only is file sharing illegal, it is also unhealthy for your computer and potentially yourself. The courts are increasingly aggressive in prosecuting people that download files illegally.
Don’t download music from just any source. Pandora, Spotify and iHeart Radio offer free radio-type options and Grooveshark lets you make a playlist of your favorite songs. These sites run ads which pay for free music use; they also offer ad-free listening with paid subscriptions. This is one way you can listen to music you like without compromising your computer. As always, ignore the ads. If you prefer to purchase albums or songs, use a program like iTunes, GooglePlay or Amazon.
Some sites let you stream “new” movies for free. These are often films playing at the box office so you might be tempted to skip the theater and watch from home. Most of the time these movies have either been recorded (illegally) by someone who has gone to the theater; these are called “cams” and are poor quality. Sites like this are also packed with malicious content and frequently change their address as the authorities attempt to shut them down.
If you want to watch movie, check out your local library, Redbox, Netflix, or Amazon Prime. If the film is in theaters, support your local community and see it in a theater! Movie dates can be lots of fun and don’t have to be expensive. Our favorite place is The Stanley Theater.
Free software (freeware) is a mixed bag. There's a lot of good stuff out there and a lot of bad and sometimes the bad stuff looks like it should be good: "PC Cleaner," "PC Optimizer," “Registry Cleaner” or similar names can masquerade as sounding like a legitimately good program. Sometimes the software is fine, but it downloads another program that could compromise your system or just slow it down. If you download, read those pages as you click "next" and see what it is you're agreeing to. Uncheck that little box that says, "Install XYZ toolbar." Many of the “free” computer utilities will perform a scan for free but then charge you to perform the repair. Often these scan results are simply false; they want you to think your computer has a problem so you’ll buy their product. In reality, your system is probably okay.
Cnet (a CBS company) operates Download.com. This site has thousands of free and free-to-try programs for you to browse. Downloads that are hosted by Download.com have been screened for viruses, but may still contain optional software from companies that advertise on the free program you’re downloading. In addition, both the editors of Download.com and users will review and rate the programs offered, so you can get an idea of what to expect. It’s generally safer to avoid software with few reviews or poor ones and install only software that is rated highly. Again, read each page as you install to avoid unwanted software.
Some sites with free games are okay, but some will download lots of unlovely things and will compromise your computer's security. You must be discerning where you can play safe free games, and if you don’t know, go buy some games at your local computer store or on Amazon.
Although MSN, Yahoo and Facebook are well known and have free games to play, it doesn’t mean that the games are necessarily safe. Or the game may be fine, but the advertisements could lead you to another site that is unsafe. Be very wary of ads and download links!
Whether you pay or play for free, always be careful about what you click on. When installing software of any sort, always read the “fine print.” Games are free because someone is paying to advertise to you. Uncheck the optional software, it’ll save you headaches!
Going to an adult site or clicking on their ads is one of the fastest ways to get an infection on your system. Not only is it bad for your computer, it also has huge drawbacks in regard to what you're allowing your eyes to see and will make you less satisfied with the real relationships in life that are supposed to bring you joy. Just don't do it. Stay far away from adult sites. PERIOD!
In conclusion, make sure you have a “clean” source when you download “free” things or you may wish you had. If you download a file, scan it with your antivirus program before running it. If you have questions about whether your computer is compromised or if the sites you’re visiting are safe, contact us and we’ll help you!
*Yellowstone Computing can offer recommendations if you want to protect your computer, family, and Internet browsing to avoid this content. We also reserve the right to charge an additional fee, on top of our regular virus removal fee, if we remove these types of computer infections as they require an extra level of care with removal.
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