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 trust is important online, and how you can tell if a site can be trusted.

When it comes to downloading files, these are very important questions. As you'll learn in an 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.

An illustration listing some trusted online sources including government, council, university, bank, utilities, police
An icon of a padlock

eSafety Tip

When using a website, it's very important to make sure it's the authentic site for that company. For example, if you are using your bank's website for the first time, it's safest to find the correct web address from a statement or other piece of official bank correspondence. Alternatively, you can phone your bank or pop into a local branch and ask them to provide the correct web address.

While you can search for the site on a search engine, it's less safe to do so, as there are a lot of fake websites around that look very convincing. Some fake web addresses might only differ from the real address by a single letter, so it pays to be very careful and double check that the address is correct.

An illustration of a laptop computer displaying a download button and a warning sign next to it.

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 and https://

If you're unsure a website is safe to download from, the first thing to do is look for the padlock icon and the https:// at the beginning of the web address. The next pages show you where to find them on a web page and what they mean.

An example of an encrypted URL showing a padlock and https:// in the address bar
A zoomed in view of a little padlock displayed next to a web address in the address bar

Where is the little padlock on a web page?

On most browsers, you will see a little padlock symbol next to the website address in your web browser. Depending on your web browser, this padlock is located to the right or left of the web address in the address bar. The padlock can be grey/black, green or even just a black outline in the shape of a padlock.

What does the padlock mean?

It is the web browser's symbol to give a quick indication that the connection for the site has some extra precautions. You can click on the padlock to view the Site information panel which contains information about the connection's security certification.

If there is a warning symbol over the padlock or a red line through it, your web browser has detected that the site is unsafe to use. You should not proceed any further, but close the tab and find a different website to browse.

A zoomed in view of the Site information panel that displays when you click on a padlock.
An icon of a padlock

eSafety tip

To make sure you have the most up-to-date protection from your web browser, it's important to keep your device's operating and browser software updated automatically. This helps ensure that your browser has the most recent information on malicious websites and methods used by hackers and other undesirable programs and can alert you to dangerous sites so you can avoid them.

You can look for more information on how to check for software updates for specific devices in our Topic library.

A graphic showing the https:// with a tick above it

What else does the padlock mean?

The padlock can also indicate that what you do on the website is private, which is important if you are using passwords and making payments. But to be certain, you must also check the web address is authentic and that it contains https://.

What is https://?

Website addresses always start with either http:// or https://. This stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure respectively, but you won't ever need to write that out in full.

https:// indicates the website connection is encrypted (the data sent to and from the website is scrambled, so it cannot be intercepted and used by hackers or other unwanted third parties). For example, if you are using a website for shopping, it's essential that the web address starts with https:// to protect your private data.

A graphic indicating https:// means the data sent between the user and the site is encrypted
A graphic showing two web addresses - one is fake and the other is real, but both use https in the address.

How to find the https://

You can check for https:// in the address bar of your web browser. Some browsers only show a simplified address. To check with those ones, click on the address in the address bar. You may need to click twice. You will then see either https:// or http:// at the start of the web address.

Even if a website uses https://, double-check its web address before you enter any information. Fake websites can try to trick you by having the name of a popular website, such as a bank or social media site, but will often include unfamiliar dashes, dots and words in the address.

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.

Congratulations!

You've completed 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