P2P File-Sharing: Being Aware
File-sharing has become quite a phenomenon as it provides millions of computer users each day with a huge amount of information whether in the form of music, games, or software files. All you need to do is search the net for an appropriate software that will allow you to connect to an informal network of other computers running the same application and download it for free (most of the time). You will come to know how to use it in a very short time. However, your worries do not stop here rather this is where you may start to get careful. Once you start to share files over the Web there are a number of issues you have to bare in mind: you may, for example, inadvertently allow others to get access to your private files you never meant to share.
Another great issue at steak here is downloading material that is protected by the copyright laws. This can easily get you caught up in legal matters. All the same and just as easily you may become victim of a virus passed on through file-sharing and which can damage your system greatly or you may ease up the way for hackers to benefit from a security breach.
Pornography advertised as something else represents another problem as you (or your children for that matter) may find yourself in front of some explicit content that you did not want. There are a few steps that you might consider taking as to prevent any violation of your private data which may lead to serious consequences:
Pay great attention when setting up the file-sharing software
You can’t be overcareful when installing the software because you could allow access to more than just the files you want to share, such as your tax returns, email messages, medical records, photos, or other personal data.
Look out for spyware
Some file-sharing applications install other software called spyware. Spyware keeps track of a user’s browsing habits and then passes on that data to third parties. Sometimes the user receives ads based on the information that the spyware has gathered and then distributed. Spyware are often pretty hard to identify and remove. When using a file-sharing program you have to make sure you have also installed an anti-spyware program. It’s better that you set it to scan periodically (once a week at least) and each time you turn on your computer. It would also be a good idea to get rid of any software programs the anti-spyware program detects that you don’t like being on your computer.
Terminate your connection
Sometimes, closing the file-sharing program window does not necessarily mean that you have terminated your connection to the network thus, the file-sharing process can very well carry on putting your security system at risk. For those having a high-speed or “broadband” connection to the Internet, this means that you remain connected to the Internet until you turn off the computer or disconnect your Internet service. You could allow very easily others to have access to your files at any time, when having “always on” connections set. Moreover, some file-sharing applications start automatically once you have started your computer. This, however, can be fixed from settings.
Install an efficient anti-virus program and update it on regular basis
As previously mentioned it’s not seldom that it happens to get something else instead of what you thought you downloaded. An anti-virus software will prove itself quite useful preventing viruses or other malware from getting into your system and messing with it. Yet, as not all anti-virus programs block files downloaded via file-sharing you should check first what your application is capable of. A good protective measure would be not to download files with extensions like .exe, .scr, .lnk, .bat, .vbs, .dll, .bin, and .cmd.
Make sure you know what your kid knows about file-sharing
Last but not least, an important issue that has to be addressed is the awareness of parents towards children’s downloading activity. Unknowingly or not, kids may download inappropriate files or even expose the family’s confidential computer files to the risk of being copied.