If it's referred to in a Cnet article, I wouldn't give it much second thought. If it's here in the forums, I'd be more cautious depending on who it is that linked to it. If it's Bob, Toni, Mark, Ray (Harinec), etc, I don't worry as I know they'd never steer me wrong. However, if it's a new member with a few posts I'd be a little more leery for the simple fact that I don't know the person who's recommending it. If it's something on Cnet's download.com, I'd read the reviews and be cautious. They do scan the software offered, but things have been known to slip through. (I've caught/reported a few myself.)
Now, for the software-side of things, I have two primary recommendations...Netcraft Toolbar and Site Advisor, both of which are free and available for Internet Explorer and Firefox. Netcraft Toolbar will give you information about the site you're at and help detect phishing sites. (ie Site look-a-likes that trick you into handing over private information.) SiteAdvisor (highly recommended) will give the site you're viewing a Green, Yellow, or Red flag based on spam, malware, popups, tracking cookies, and other nasties. It can also be used to 'highlight' all search results through Google, Yahoo, and MSN, alerting to which search results are safe and which are not. I trust both and rely on them daily.
Aside from that, always make sure you have a firewall and the usual malware protection in case you do pick up something.
Finally, I'd like to note that ImageShack.us is fine...they use a few tracking cookies but do not pose a threat or security risk. I use it all the time and wouldn't recommend something I thought to be harmful.
Hope this helps,
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