If you are like seventy five million other people in the world, you haveâ€”at some pointâ€”downloaded music or videos from P2P, or peer-to-peer, file sharing networks. These networks allow users to download their software, then access millions of files to download for free. Users can also upload their songs, software, and other files and share them with other users.
While this sounds like a great deal, there are many things you need to be concerned with if you participate in P2P file sharing. One of the most common includes computer damage and other damage to your files. Most of the P2P networks you will find will claim to be spyware/adware free. While the networks themselves may not load spyware and other harmful malware onto your computer, they cannot guarantee the safety of the files you are downloading. Files that are publicly shared may have viruses encoded in them, so even if the network itself has no spyware, the traded files might.
How can my computer be attacked?
There are some of the more common network attacks:
•Poisoning. This occurs when you download a file that has something different from what is described.
•Malware. This type is in the software itself and typically contains spyware to watch what sites you visit.
•Identity attacks. In this case, users of the network are tracked down and harassed.
•Spamming. Spamming occurs when unsolicited information is sent across the network.
•Polluting. This occurs when viruses or spyware are inserted into a file that is otherwise undamaged.
The harmful spyware and adware that can be installed on your computer, often without your knowledge, can wreak havoc. Not only will it slow your computer down considerably, but it could leave you with annoying pop-ups and more prone to viruses.
How to protect yourself from P2P network attacks
The following are some ways to protect yourself from P2P network attacks.
•Be sure you only download legal software. Not all file sharing software is legal. Do your research and make sure the P2P network software you are using is in fact legal. When in doubt, avoid the free software and stick to legal, fee-based downloading software. The legal software is much less likely to have spyware and other viruses on in, making you less prone to P2P network attacks.
•Have up-to-date antivirus protection. Because of the high risk of inadvertently downloading spyware, malware, viruses, and other things that could harm your computer, make sure you have an anti-virus and firewall software installed, and update it regularly. This can help protect your own files and information, and also protect others by making sure you are not sharing infected files. This software can be purchased relatively inexpensively and is a small price to pay for protecting your valuable information and your security. McAfee and Norton are trusted sources for anti-virus software.
•Make sure you aren’t unknowingly sharing files. You could automatically share your own if you are still connected to a free site. Make sure you completely uninstall any illegal free file sharing software you may have from your computer. This will help to protect you from network attacks even if you no longer are a part of that network anymore.
These are just a few of the ways you can protect yourself from harmful P2P network attacks.