BitTorrent downloads: is peer to peer file sharing safe?

BitTorrent downloads: is peer to peer file sharing safe?

Posted 09.14.2009 in Articles by Dan

The ability to share and download files has become increasingly simple and accessible so many people can download and upload information, sharing across peer to peer networks by using the BitTorrent protocol. But with so much traffic and information being traded, there is a lot of room for spyware, adware, and viruses to be attached to any file that's being shared.

BitTorrent is a communications protocol utilizing peer to peer file sharing in order to distribute large amounts of data over the Internet. Peer to peer file sharing allows users to download any type of media files through a software client that searches with other connected computers. The difference between BitTorrent and previous generations is that it creates a new network for every set of files instead of trying to create one big network of files.

Beyond the fact that by using BitTorrent a user can easily infringe on copyrights and illegally download files, but using it can put your computer at high risk and leave you vulnerable. When using peer to peer file sharing web sites, it is near impossible to verify that the source you are downloading from is trustworthy. Hackers can transmit malware attached to the files you are downloading by incorporating spyware, viruses, worms, and other malicious code. Once you download the files, your computer becomes infected.

When your computer is infected, unauthorized users may be able to access personal and sensitive information located on your computer. Some file sharing programs create paths through your firewall while identifying information, such as your IP address, is available to anyone sharing the same torrent, all things that can be exploited by hackers when using BitTorrent.

There is no definite safe way to use BitTorrent, but there are some steps in which you can take to better protect yourself. Configuring the program you are using so that only files you wish to share are available and making sure you don't download any unnecessary software, such as toolbars or other adware, is a start.

Peerblock is free software that manages a list of potentially threatening IP addresses and alerts and disconnects your computer from any matched IP addresses in order to keep your computer safe.

A simple way to research the torrent you wish to download is by reading the comments on the peer to peer sharing site. Fellow BitTorrent users will be your best source for honest reviews on any downloads. If there are any problems with a download, more than likely another user has experienced it and posted a comment.

Using a proxy is an effective way to add a level of security when using BitTorrent. A proxy protects your computer by routing all of your traffic through another server once it leaves your computer and as it comes back to you as well. When connected to a peer to peer protocol, peers cannot see your home IP address, only the IP address of the proxy.

Overall the BitTorrent protocol is the fastest and more effective way to share files with peers, but there is no absolute safe way to use it. No matter what steps you take or what files you download, you will always be at risk.

 

References:

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peer-to-peer_file_sharing

2. http://www.getsafeonline.org/nqcontent.cfm?a_id=1137

3. http://www.webroot.com/En_US/consumer/articles/online-activities-safe-file-sharing

4. http://howto.techworld.com/applications/3221224/how-to-use-bittorrent-and-p2p-safely/

5. http://www.firewalls-and-virus-protection.com/file-sharing-risks.html

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perida3
Posts: 1
Comment
Isn't this illegal?
Reply #1 on : Mon October 15, 2012, 11:37:14
Other than putting your computer at risk if you use torrents, isn't it also illegal to download files using them?

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