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How do you assess the trustworthiness of a new website? Especially to download and then install software from.


Edit: My underlying concern is to:

  1. Trust the website.
  2. Trust the website to not inject installer trash into/over the top of the installer. CNET and Download.com did this for a while with custom installers wrapping legitimate software

I recently discovered a software downloading site lo4d.com when looking for some legitimate software. It is new to me, though it might have been around for a while, I'm not sure. It has subdomains for every software that it hosts (seems fishy), and it seems to host all of them (also seems fishy). I have done some preliminary research, but haven't found a wikipedia page nor have I dug deep into it yet.

How do you assess the trustworthiness of a new website? Waaaaay back in the day, most websites were trustworthy. Nowadays, most websites are auto/AI generated trash at best, with a software sharing site being a really good way to distribute malware.

I'd like to make a repository/FAQ/Guide so that others can understand what it takes to vet a website properly.

What I have done so far:

  • Did not immediately click on the site, nor try to download the software
  • DDG search for the website URL, which gave me the company blurb (see below)
  • Look for a wikipedia page
  • Several other DDG searches for "what is...", "who is...", "...trustworthy" etc.
  • Read the "reviews" on several sites such as trustpilot, WOT, Norton, etc. (NOTE: ironically, some of these can be scammy/false websites or false reviews. WOT had a big scandal several years back)

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In my particular case, I am still not satisfied. What else can I do to research a site?

Edit: yall are off on a backwards tangent again, so I clarified some things.

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  • Honestly? Gut feeling. Never mislead me so far.
    – user163495
    Aug 22, 2021 at 17:03
  • Answer: don't trust them. Why not download the software straight from the source ? Download sites may be useful for the reviews and comparison purposes. But I will always download from the official website. It's not like they are offering software you can't through any other source right ?
    – Kate
    Aug 22, 2021 at 20:28

2 Answers 2

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It seems like your underlying concern pertains to trusting the software that you are downloading. Standard practice is to verify that the software is signed by a trusted signer before you install the software. If that's the case, then it doesn't matter where you download the software from. If the site that you download the software from tries to tamper with the software, then this will break the signature.

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  • No, my underlying concern is to 1. trust the website. 2. Trust the website to not inject installer trash into or over the top of the installer. Aug 22, 2021 at 18:00
  • Then the simple answer is to not trust the website. If you will not rely on installer signatures then you're open to all sorts of issues.
    – doneal24
    Aug 22, 2021 at 18:10
  • bruh. The fact that I'm talking about a downloading site is barely incidental to the question. Why are you so focused on the wrong thing? Aug 23, 2021 at 2:04
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While there are websites like trustpilot (which I personally do not trust) I think there's a better solution to handle such a situation.

Either run the software you cannot be sure in under a separate non-administrator user account, or much better under SandBoxie+, or an even better option, under a virtual machine, e.g. VirtualBox or VMWare Player.

Here's an even bigger issue: a particular vendor might be trustworthy but it's been compromised and is distributing software with a backdoor or something nasty - you can never know.

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