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Is Archive.org safe?

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  • 5 min read

Most of us have visited Archive.org to download and access books, music, and web pages, among others. It is like a repository of long-lost and forgotten media that we remember randomly and frantically search on the web.

Archive.org, or the Internet Archive, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organisation on the mission to provide Universal Access to All Knowledge. Launched in 1996, the organisation is a storehouse of 735 billion web pages, 41 million books and texts, 14.7 million audio recordings, and 4.4 million images. You can access all these resources for free.

But is Archive.org safe to use? Will you accidentally download malware if you use Archive.org? These questions have often been asked by people. In this article, we will investigate Archive.org.

Also read: Is Google Password Manager safe?


Safety of Archive.org

Archive.org has a high reputation because it has been more than 25 years since the project began. In this section, we’ll analyse Archive.org via various reputable malware detectors and site reviewers:

Virustotal

Let us head to Virustotal and enter the domain URL. Here’s what we got:

Every security vendor on the platform gave the site a green flag. This should allay some fears.


Scamadvisor

Next, we head to Scamadvisor to further analyse Archive.org so that we can say for a fact that it is safe. We found that the website has a trust score of 100/100. Archive.org also has a 4.4/5 rating based on 230 reviews.

Scamadvisor found that Archive.org has a valid SSL certificate, the domain name is reputable, thousands have given positive reviews about the website, high traffic on the website and the website is trusted by many vendors such as Trend Micro, Maltivarse, and Flashstart.


Sucuri

Sucuri is another online site checker that gives ratings based on some parameters. When we checked Archive.org on Sucuri, it received a Medium Security Risk rating.

The website has no malware, spam, or defacements. Archive.org is also not blocked by search engines. However, Sucuri found that Archive.org has a missing security header that can lead to Clickjacking and Content-Type sniffing attacks.


Trustpilot

Archive.org has respectable ratings on WOT, TrustScam, and Trustpilot. Let us head to Trustpilot and further analyse Archive.org.

As you can see, Archive.org has a rating of 3.4/5 based on 39 reviews. Out of these, 33% are 5-star and 31% are 1-star reviews.

Here’s an example of a 1-star review that we came across:

“……why would you have the biggest library if you can’t control speed traffic and almost everything is inaccessible? Also, what is the point of donation if you don’t get any privileges? To watch a 1h30min video it takes 4 hours.”

Most 1-star reviews talk about how the organisation’s copyrighting strikes, content being taken down randomly, faulty book formats, and users not being allowed to delete their media. No one talked about downloading malware or other harmful software via the platform.

Whereas the 5-star reviewers praised the platform for being the internet’s memory.

Also read: Is Journal Lapse app safe?


Problems with Archive.org

Although the platform is awesome and is helping millions find their favourite books, movies, live shows, and recordings, it is not without its fair share of malware warnings. However, some reports have surfaced questioning Archive.org’s safety.

SANS Technology Institute published a report detailing the delivery of harmful content through archive.org. Many antivirus pages failed to check the harmful download and flagged it green.

The problem is anyone can upload a malicious file on Archive.org containing a sophisticated payload that can fool the website’s security. If anyone downloads and opens the malicious files, the payload will spread on the device.

Also read: Is Line app safe?


What precautions should you take while downloading from Archive.org?

Now that we have understood the potential problems with the platform let us take a look at some of the precautions that you should take while downloading media from Archive.org:

  • Before downloading, you should check the source and reputation of the uploader. If the uploader has been consistent, there is a high chance that the files are safe, as threat actors usually become active for a few months to target a population.
  • Once you have downloaded the file, run it by an antivirus on your system or online. Virustotal is one such platform where you can upload the file, and it will check for potential malware.
  • Always check the file extensions. Sometimes, the file you want to download may carry dual extensions that confuse you. For example, a file named xyz.jpg.exe is not a photo or a picture but an executable file that can harm your device.

In conclusion, Archive.org is safe to use if you learn how to navigate the complex web of threat actors and other entities. Follow the tips given above for safely downloading of materials, and you’re good to go.

Also read: Is Steamrip safe?

Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: kumarhemant@pm.me

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