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I clicked on a link for the subdomain of a trusted website (the subdomain slackin.brilliant.org of the website brilliant.org), and instead of being directed to another page, a file called "download" simply downloaded onto my computer. I deleted the file right away, so I don't know its contents, but I was worried that maybe the file had malicious contents (could Brilliant.org maybe own a domain and not have control of this subdomain, therefore allowing perpetrators of malware to capitalize on this?).

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Nothing malicious is going on. The file is empty.

This happens when there is a misconfiguration of the webserver and instead of serving a page to display, it transfers the target as a file. In this case, there was nothing to transfer.

This sort of thing was a lot more common in the early days of the web, but I'm shocked to see it these days.

  • What was the MIME type? – Daisetsu Nov 30 '18 at 23:48
  • no MIME type - empty - 0 bytes – schroeder Nov 30 '18 at 23:52
  • (@Daisetsu) for me, Content-Type is application/octet-stream which admittedly is often used to mean 'I haven't got a clue'. (And yes Content-Length 0.) – dave_thompson_085 Dec 1 '18 at 3:34

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