Understand the dangers of file sharing

Peer-to-PeerPeer-to-peer file sharing, also known as P2P, is based on a network of computer systems connected to one another through the Internet. Users act as servers for one another when uploading, storing and downloading content, such as music, movies and games. Because a central server is not used, users are responsible for handling security and administration for themselves.

You may have heard of P2P services such as Napster, BearShare, and KaZaA for their association with illegal activity due to copyright infringement. The Office of Campus Information Security (OCIS) handled 121 first-time notices for individuals who used such services on the campus network, breaking copyright regulations.

Not only are there legal and moral implications are associated with these file-sharing services, they are also vulnerable to attacks. Because these sites are so popular, hackers can easily and widely distribute viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and other malicious content. Some risks include:

  • P2P file sharing promotes little or no control over shared content.
  • P2P applications may not check for malicious code, such as viruses.
  • All content in shared directories is available for download, including personal or private data you did not intend to share.
  • Content is easily renamed and you may download the wrong file.
  • Files are often not scrutinized before promoting them to other users. You may unknowingly propagate harmful content.
  • Some P2P software comes bundled with advertiser applications that can include spyware.
  • Unless you go to extreme
  • Using P2P networks exposes your computer’s IP address, which can allow hackers to perform malicious actions using your computer’s identity.

These examples illustrate the dangers of using P2P file sharing and highlight the importance of taking sole responsibility over your own security. Follow best practices and allow content from trusted sites or peers only. Get more technical details about P2P file sharing.