Every day, millions of people are file sharing over the internet in order to not worry about carrying a USB or hard drive wherever they go, however, whether you are sharing software, games, or music, you are offering people a vast amount of information. There is some software that provides reliable sharing systems, however there are still financial, security, and potential legal risks involved.
What Are The Legal Risks?
There could be potential criminal charges with certain file sharing. For example, downloading software or movies from pirate sites are in direct violation of legitimate copyright holders. In the U.S. it can result in a $500,000 fine, as well as up to five years’ imprisonment time. Also, sharing documents that aren’t prohibited to you, such as client contracts, can breach confidentiality agreements in workplaces all over the world. Sharing files over the internet can be quick, but it is always beneficial to be careful as to who and what you share over the internet.
Is There Any Privacy?
P2P, or peer-to-peer sharing, is completely different from traditional downloading. P2P can be done through software, allowing you to identify local computers to find the files you want or need. The computers are essentially seen as “peers” rather than servers, allowing you to send requests for the file you want to download. Everyone is basically a server, offering file exchanges rather than one person simply downloading from another. Due to the constant file exchanges, however, you can see the inherent risks of file sharing. File sharing is offering a “peer” access to your files, important information, and much more. You are effectively allowing your peers to bypass your firewall and even your security measures, in order to access the vast amount of files stored in your computer. If there is a lot of confidential information stored on your computer, these files could become available to your peers with your P2P software.
It can be common for small businesses to download software through P2P rather than utilising a virtual desktop. Programmers can easily hide virus codes within the files that they send, including music and applications, which are easily shared all over P2P networks. Infected files can damage your system, whereas other viruses can subtly run in the background unnoticed in an attempt to gather as much information as possible, using your computer as a base to attack other peers within the P2P network. Remember that P2P networks transfer files back and forth with complete strangers; this makes it easier for infected files to travel through the networks.
How Do You Protect Yourself?
There are various ways to prepare for P2P networks thar are extremely quick and simple.
Checking the terms and conditions, as well as installing the correct software, will always help you protect your confidential information as well as your hard drive. If you are not careful you could see medical records, photos, emails, and all your personal records accessed through a little mistake.
Always be aware of certain file sharing programs, as they can install additional software called spyware. Spyware scouts your computer or network and provides information to a third party, sharing all of your information. Spyware is also a concern as it can be extremely difficult to detect and even remove, causing long term issues. There is software out there that can prevent the downloading of spyware.
Anti-virus software can be costly, but is extremely effective. Anti-virus programs will always provide a layer of protection and a warning against file extensions such as .exe, .scr, .lnk, .bat, and .vbs.
Always ensure that once you close a P2P sharing network, the program is also completely shut down. Sometimes P2P networks may not be disconnected from the network, allowing easy access into your network. These connections are constantly live, allowing others to copy and retrieve files from at all times.