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PC Security

File sharing software risks explained.


What is filesharing or P2P software?
P2P (Peer 2 Peer) software allows users to share files (music, video etc) over the Internet. Once the file sharing software is installed, Individual computers (INCLUDING YOURS) are linked via the Internet to share programs/files/music, often illegally.

P2P users download files directly from other users' computers.

File sharing is particularly popular with teenagers as it allows music and video to be downloaded at no financial cost. However the allure of free music can mean that basic security issues are overlooked leaving your PC wide open to unscrupulous people.


Commonly used file sharing software.?

Some P2P programs bundle third-party advertising programs, and use of file sharing software is one of the largest sources of virus, Trojan and data mining infections.If you allow the use of these programmes on your PC it is important that you are aware of the risks to you and your computer.

Many people have peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing software on their home PCs. Teenagers use P2P to look for and download music and video files (often illegally). Some of the more widely used file sharing programs are:

  • Kazaa
  • Grokster
  • Morpheus
  • Bittorrent
  • Limewire

You should check if your PC has one these programmes installed (this list is only the most popular there are many others). If any of the above are on your PC it is important that:

  • You check what is being downloaded by your children (usually a shared folder exists e.g. c:/sharedfolder/
  • You check that your PC has minimum security measures in place.
  • You speak to whoever uses the P2P software and make them aware of the risks

It is not the actual file sharing program that is the main concern with regard to these programs but rather the other risks:

  • Virus infection from downloaded files I cannot stress this enough if P2P are used- ALWAYS ALWAYS keep your virus protection up to date. (If you would like a list of recommended software please click here for the best available virus protection applications)
  • Adware that is installed with the application
  • Legal implications of downloading unlicenced material

P2P products are one of the most common ways that adware can infiltrate your computer make your online life difficult. The adware they distribute can force you to view advertisements and pop-ups, hijack your Web browser, and even slow your computer to a grinding halt.


Are there any safe P2P Programmes?

There are risks involved with the use of all P2P applications – virus, inappropriate (adult) material etc. Reduction of the risk can be achieved by being careful, knowing the risks and by educating yourself and your children.

Research of current applications lead us to recommend Bittorrent as one of the safer P2P file sharing application around (although please note there are security risks with all P2P clients)


If you install file sharing software, what you should check.

Many of the other programmes are loaded with spyware and adware. If you insist on the installation of any P2P programs make sure you :

  • Read the licence agreement during the installation.
  • Monitor childrens use of the software
  • Check what is being downloaded/uploaded
  • Run virus and spyware checks frequently
  • Use search engines, such as Google, for problems that other users have encountered

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