There are some big risks that come with file sharing over peer to peer networks. So, what is the best line of defense against these risks? Well, the first is knowing what they are, and the second is knowing how to avoid them.
What risks does file-sharing over peer to peer networks impose?
•Damage to your computer in the form of installation of malicious code. Usually when you use P2P applications, it is difficult, and in some cases impossible, to verify that the source of the files is trustworthy. This means you can be attacked by malicious code, spyware, viruses, Trojan horses, worms, etc. These can be hidden in the files you are downloading, and will infect your computer.
•Your personal information could be at risk. Basically when you use a P2P network you are giving other users access to your personal information. Sometimes this comes in the form of the files creating access pathways to certain directories, and in other cases it is because you provided information, thinking it was a trustworthy source. Often times when you file share on P2P networks, unauthorized people may be able to access your financial or medical data, personal documents, sensitive corporate information, or other personal information. This leads to increased risk of identity theft.
•Makes you more vulnerable. Unfortunately for you, some P2P applications may ask you to open certain ports on your firewall to transmit the files. By doing this you give access to hackers and other attacks that take advantage of the vulnerabilities that exist in the P2P application.
•Slower operation. One risk that comes with file sharing on P2P is that often downloading files causes a significant amount of traffic, and can tie up processes on your computer making it slower, and limiting your ability to use your computer or the internet.
•Another risk is that you could be prosecuted. One problem with file sharing is that you do not know if the software, etc. you are sharing is legal. For example, pornography is often shared, illegally obtained copyrighted materials, or pirated software. If you download such items, even in ignorance, you open yourself fup for legal action.
How can you minimize these risks?
The best way to eliminate these risks is to avoid using P2P applications. But obviously for some of this, that is not an option. So, if you choose to continue file sharing, then make sure you have the following securities in place to help minimize the risks:
•Install anti-virus software – Anti-virus software is great for recognizing and protecting you from known viruses, but there are always new ones coming out, so keep your system current. Also, make sure you only have one type of anti-virus software installed. If you install multiple kinds they counteract each other and leave you defenseless.
•Install and enable your firewall – Firewalls block malicious traffic before it gets you’re your computer. If you have a firewall that came with your operating system that is great, but make sure it is enabled and that you do not create holes in it.
Simply using these two things you can protect yourself from a lot of garbage, however it is not full proof, so be careful to check out who you are downloading items from, etc.