Download from trusted sources


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Download from trusted sources

A lady points out something to a man on a computer screen

What's coming up

In this activity, we're going to focus on trust. We'll ask why is trust important online, and how you can tell if a site can be trusted.

When it comes to downloading, these are very important questions. As you'll learn in upcoming activity, it's vital that you download only from trusted sites.

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Trusted sites

The most important thing when getting documents and photos from the internet is to download from a trusted source.

There are some websites that you should be able to trust. Major organisations, like your bank, insurance company, or the government can generally be trusted, so anything you download from them should be safe.

Illustration of buildings named Government, Bank, Council, Utilities, University and Police
Computer security illustration

But what about other websites?

If you're not sure about a website, the best thing to do is not download anything from it. However, if a site has something you do want to download, there are some things you can check to see how trustworthy a site is. We'll cover those next.

Look for the padlock

If you're unsure a website is safe to download from, the first thing to do is look for the padlock sign. The next pages show you where to find the padlock on a web page and what it means.

An example of a secure URL in the address bar
A website with a padlock symbol highlighted next to the web address

Where is the little padlock on a web page?

If you see a little padlock symbol next to the website address in your web browser, it means that the site has been checked and is secure.

What does the padlock mean?

It shows that the website is not a fake website. The people who run the website are not pretending to be someone else, for example, a scammer.

A computer screen with a padlock symbol on it
A website with a padlock symbol highlighted next to the web address with an information window that has been opened up after clicking on the padlock

What else does the padlock mean?

The padlock also means that what you do on the website is private, which is important if you are using passwords and making payments.

Look for https://

Another way to check if a website can be trusted is to look for the https:// in the web browser address bar.

You may have noticed that your web browser puts an http:// or https:// in front of a web addresses. The s in https actually stands for secure.

So if you see https:// before the website address in your web browser, this indicates the website has taken extra security precautions, and is likely to be more safe than a site with just http://.

A magnified example of starting a web address with 'https'
An example of a contact us link on a website

Find the Contact page

You could also look for a Contact page on the website. A link to the Contact page will sometimes be at the top of the page, or, on some websites, be right down the bottom of the website's home page. If the website doesn't have have a Contact page listed anywhere, it's probably not a site you should trust.


Well done! Now that you've finished the Download from trusted sources activity you'll know that there are some simple checks you can run to see if a website can be trusted. These questions include:

  • do I know the organisation personally?
  • does it have a padlock next to the web address?
  • does the address start with https://?
  • does the site have a contact page?

Keep these in mind and downloading will become much safer for you.

In the next activity, Protecting yourself from a virus, we'll look at how to guard against accidentally downloading something from an unsafe website.

A woman's hands typing on a laptop