When it comes to checking for hostile files coming in from the web, it is much more difficult than simply scanning an email. Communications are being conducted in real-time and often encrypted. So in order to defend against the two ways to get malware when surfing the Internet — an exploited browser (which automatically downloads malware without the need for you to click anything) and being tricked into downloading an infected file — you need a secure browser and some common sense.

To effectively protect yourself against browser exploits it doesn’t take much, you just need to use a secure browser. Conventional browsers will always be vulnerable to attacks, while secure browsers like Passages provide complete protection against browser exploits. Regardless of where you go or what you click on, malicious files will never make it to your physical computer.

As for downloaded malware, things become a little more complicated. The malware can come in an application or a document; so the likelihood of coming across malicious applications and files is extremely high. Here are four proven tips for making sure you minimize your risk and exposure to downloadable malware:

1. Get authentic applications

A lot of downloaded malware comes from untrustworthy websites. Only download applications directly from well known vendors and application stores. There are many third-party applications stores, which are very dangerous.

2. Go to the source

Malware often appears to be an interesting report or other document. Attackers will distribute links to the infected file in many places. Protect yourself by always finding and downloading from the original source. For example, download the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report directly from Verizon. Download our white papers only from our website.

3. Avoid the download

Often you only need to read a document but you don’t need to keep it. Whenever possible, read your documents in an online or in-browser document reader. For example, Passages allows you to read PDF and office documents all within the browser without allowing the file to ever reach your desktop.

4. Fully scan files before they reach you

Real-time scanning is necessarily incomplete. Many kinds of malware can only be detected with more detailed inspection and execution. The safest way to download a file is to first save it to a computer where it will be scanned, then move it to your desktop when it has been deemed safe. This can be done manually using a virtual machine in the cloud or on your desktop. Passages automates the whole process, scanning every download with multiple best-in-class scanners using very different approaches, including Cylance next generation anti-malware, to ensure detection of any malware.

To ensure a safe web browsing experience, everyone needs to practice all four of these safe download guidelines. Don’t let the fear of malware discourage you, Passages makes staying safe easy by helping you follow these guidelines. For more information on Passages and our secure web download features, check out Safehold.