Online safety and file sharing

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One of the most commonly used services on the internet is file sharing. File sharing technology enables individuals or organizations to transfer content easily. On the internet, most individuals prefer peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing services as they are fast, contain a lot of content that cant be found anywhere and a single entity does not govern most of the peer-to-peer services, majorly is just an interface where users can go and download files which are hosted in other users computers. The only governing involved is that of the peer-to-peer protocol.

Besides being convenient, some peer-to-peer file sharing services are also a risk to the users in that they may contain copyrighted material or the content may have malware. Also, cybercriminals may use these services to mitigate other online attacks and threats such as identity theft.

Online file sharing risks (P2P)

Risks associated with P2P file-sharing technology are usually about personally identifiable information and other sensitive content. These risks come about due to trust. P2P individuals don’t know each other, and you only trust that the other person has good intentions and is sharing files that are clean and won’t cause harm to you or your device.

  • Malware

But at times that’s not the case, the other person hosting the content might be a malicious actor who is after your data. The most common way to get your data is by bundling viruses, spyware, trojans, and other malware into attractive content that most people download. If by any chance you access the files, you trigger the malware which in turn infects your devices and causes various harm, for instance, spyware can greatly impact your privacy, and other malware will breach your security.

 

  • Unintentional/intentional data access

Attackers can make some file-sharing services to expose your shared computer directories without your knowledge or even your IP address. This will give the attackers access to some of your files which you didn’t intend to share on the internet; attackers can also inject malware to your device. Other P2P file-sharing services will require you to open some ports on your firewall for them to work. If malicious actors discover this open port, your device and your information will be at risk.

 

  • Copyright

P2P services can be used to share content illegally. That’s is, sharing content that is copyrighted without the knowledge of the owner. With copyright agencies lurking in these filesharing services, downloading such content will attract heavy fines, jail time or both,

Stay Safe

To stay safe when using online filesharing services you need to apply the online privacy practices.

  • Beware of the content

Don’t share private, sensitive content on P2P services; similarly, be careful on the files you download from these services. Always subject them to antimalware and antivirus scans to check if they are loaded with malicious codes. Also sharing and downloading of pirated content can land you in serious trouble with the law.

  • Use a firewall and other internet security software

A firewall prevents unauthorized outside entities from accessing your computer as well as the resources on your computer from accessing the open internet. This helps in minimizing access to your data and information. Internet security software provides alert about files you download and also provides malware and virus checks.

  • Use a VPN

A VPN will keep your internet traffic safe from prying eyes and also protect your IP address from becoming visible. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, and this makes it unreadable to malicious actors and any unauthorized party. The VPN servers assign you a virtual IP address which hides your actual IP address, anybody probing for your IP address will get the VPN’s IP address instead.

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