What are the security risks involved with Peer2Peer file sharing?

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There are many security risks involved with Peer2Peer file sharing. File sharing involves using technology that allows internet users to share files that are housed on their individual computers. Peer-to-peer (P2P) applications, such as those used to share music files, are some of the most common forms of file-sharing technology. However, P2P applications introduce security risks that may put your information or your computer in jeopardy.

Some risks of using these programs include:

  • Installation of malicious code: It is nearly impossible to know whether P2P programs or the files they transmit are trustworthy. These applications often incorporate spyware, viruses, Trojan horses, or worms into the files.
  • Exposure of sensitive or personal information: By providing access to certain directories on your computer, you may be inadvertantly allowing unauthorized persons to have access to personal or sensitive data. This may increase your risk of identity theft.
  • Susceptibility to attack: Some P2P applications may ask you to open certain ports on your firewall to transmit the files. However, opening some of these ports may give attackers access to your computer or enable them to attack your computer by taking advantage of any vulnerabilities that may exist in the P2P application.
  • Denial of service: Downloading files places a tremendous amount of traffic on the network and may slow down your internet service or cause it to be discontinued. This is definitely something to consider if you live in the Rutgers dorms.
  • Prosecution: Files shared through P2P applications may include pirated software, copyrighted material, or pornography. If you download these, even unknowingly, you may be faced with fines or other legal action.

To learn more about the risks of P2P programs, please visit: http://rusecure.rutgers.edu/sec_aware/p2p.php.

To read more about how to protect yourself and your computer when using the internet, please visit: http://rusecure.rutgers.edu.

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