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Checking your files with MD5

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In the modern day of personal computing, computer security is becoming a mainstream topic. Topics about mail ware, spy ware, and virus are being covered by the main stream media on a daily to weekly basis. These stories about hackers and people loosing credit card numbers and personal data are important topics and there is an old method available to computer users to protect themselves.

Downloading files from the internet is the most common way people get themselves infected with either spy ware or viruses. One method available to computer users to verify the integrity of the file downloaded is to check its MD5SUM. MD5 stands for Message Digest version 5, the algorithm takes a file of any size and reduces it down to a code. The code is a 32 digit hexadecimal number (example 79054025255fb1a26e4bc422aef54eb4). This hexadecimal number is unique to the file that it was created with. If the file that was used to created the MD5 is changed by even a single byte, it will produce a completely different MD5.

You will need to compare the MD5 of the file you downloaded from the internet with the MD5 number that is listed from the repository that supplied the file. If the two hexadecimal numbers match then you know you have a complete file that has not been altered. If for some reason they don't match it is strongly recommended that the file be deleted and downloaded again. The file may not have been altered for just malicious purposes, but if the file transfer was not complete you will also see a different MD5. Data integrity is critical to users privacy in modern computing and becoming savvy with the available tools will help keep malicious software off your computer.

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