There are plenty of risks for file sharing over peer to peer networks, and the best way to avoid those risks are to not use peer to peer networks or share files. However, this is not a real option for many, so the following are some tips for things you can do to avoid many of the risks of file sharing over peer to peer networks:
•Know what files you’re sharing. When you share a file it becomes accessible by millions of people, and computers all over the world. So, you always want to be sure about what you are sharing. Some application will automatically share any files you have downloaded. Other applications automatically upload your entire hard drive and make it shareable. So, you want to make sure that your personal information is not being made public or accessible. So, know what you are sharing and to what extent. If multiple people use your computer, you will need to be extra careful about monitoring what is being shared.
•Know what you are downloading, and preferably who you are downloading files from. You will want to be extra careful with files you download. Downloaded files can be a source of viruses, malware, malicious code or other damaging software. This holds true to any time you download, not just on peer to peer networks, but be sure you trust their source before using them. Make sure that your computer is protected with up-to-date anti-virus software, and that you scan all files before bringing them onto your own computer.
•Use the security tools. Believe it or not, even if you do not have security installed on your own computer you can be somewhat safe when using peer to peer networks, you just have to use the tools they provide for security. For example, there should be several tools in place to protect privacy and security on peer-to-peer networks, including network firewalls, spyware-removal tools, and newer, more secure file sharing clients. It only takes a few seconds to run these tools and can save you a lot of headache.
•Know the laws and share lawfully. While it is fun to share music, and other things, you want to make sure that you are not sharing copyrighted works. Unlawful sharing of copyrighted works can result in serious legal liability. Peer-to-peer users should know whether they are infringing copyrights in their activities and should keep their file sharing legal at all times.
•Look out for spyware. Spyware can be very invading of your privacy. Some file-sharing programs collect information about your computer use and may transmit it to third parties. So, if you are going to use these file sharing programs, make sure you watch for spyware, and do your best to eliminate it from your computer if it is on there. Also, try to be aware of what information your software is collecting, some spyware is not bad, but it is better to be safe than sorry. It is always good to avoid programs that collect more information about you than you want. If you think you may have downloaded spyware and you want to remove it, consider using one of the Net’s many anti-spyware tools. However, once again be cautious about using tools that collect too much personal information without obeying fair information practices.
•Talk to your family and any one who uses the computer to share files online. There are real dangers with file sharing, and you should make sure that the people in your family are aware of these dangers and take the steps listed above to protect your computer from malicious code and other problems.