When you use a peer to peer network for file sharing you put yourself at risk of many things. Unfortunately there are risks with any Internet use, and peer to peer networks only have heightened risk due to the number of users, and the content being shared, as well as the general inexperience of file sharers. However, one of the biggest problems with file sharing peer to peer networks is not always from the files, but from the networks themselves. This problem is the risk caused by spyware.
The following is a discussion of the spyware risks of peer to peer file sharing networks:
Spyware is a real problem for people who choose to file share over peer to peer networks. What is spyware? Spyware is software that, without the user’s knowledge, gathers information about an Internet user and sends that information to a third party. The purpose of this varies from marketing research, to malicious reasoning like identity theft.
The problem is not always with the files being shared either. In fact, a number of popular peer-to-peer file sharing software programs have been found to install spyware onto user’s computers, often without the user’s knowledge. So, if you use the network, and run their software, you get spyware installed on your computer.
With spyware, once installed, the programs may transmit sensitive information and are often hard to remove. This can mean a lot of privacy risks, slower operation of your computer, and more.
There are many forms of spyware, and not all are alike, but each pose their own threat. Let’s take a look at two of the documented forms of spyware and why they are so dangerous:
The Trojan horse: This spyware will track the web user’s visit and relay the information to a third party. This means that your movements are tracked, and someone else gets to know about it. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but what if you are visiting your bank account, and a third party gets to see that information?
vx2.dll: This spyware program file is capable of capturing lists of websites visited, can create pop-up ads, and can even capture user’s input into web forms and comment boxes. This means it can relay information like your credit card number, social security number, or other sensitive personal information to a third party without your knowledge.
The reason spyware is a risk to people who file share on peer to peer networks is that many peer to peer networks install it on your computer, and many of the files you download may also install it on your computer.
The biggest risk of spyware is that it does not comply with the Fair Information Practices, it denies users any opportunities for notice, consent, access, or other critical abilities. Which put simply means it is a significant threat to your privacy.
As you can see, when you join a peer to peer network you put yourself and computer at risk for spyware, sometimes spyware that is almost impossible to detect and eliminate., This means you might be a victim of spyware and not even know it. So, the best way to protect yourself is not to join. However, you should also ask questions, run scans, and be careful about what information you share when using the Internet.