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How can I be sure that a software is what it claims it is/or that a piece of software isn't malicious?

If you purchase software from a trusted provider such as Adobe or Microsoft, for example, you don’t have to worry about the software harming your computer. However, if you download free software, also know as “freeware” or “shareware” from the Internet, it can contain spyware, adware, trojans, back doors, key loggers, bots or viruses. You are taking this risk by downloading this software. Still want to download freeware? Do your research. Check message boards and see what people are saying about a particular piece of freeware, or download it from a Web site that tests the software first. Note that these practices will not eliminate risks of infection, but they will help.

See:
How do I prevent spyware and malware?
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