Despite security and copyright problems that have plagued them throughout their existence, file sharing programs continue to be popular. The first Napster, Kazaa, & Limewire are the better known programs for file sharing, and they entice many consumers with their ability to get you the file, whether it be a video, audio, document, or picture file, for free. The good news ends there. Many of these free, or lite, programs, pay for themselves through collaboration with known spyware producers who pay the file sharing program makers to bundle their software with spyware and other nasties. To make things worse, there is no way of knowing what programs and files are being put onto your computer while these programs are being used. So in exchange for free audio, video, and text files, you get in exchange more spyware, worms, trojans, and viruses than you would have encountered through regular web surfing.
The risks of file sharing programs extends into privacy concerns as well. As people rely on their computers to do more, and remember more, our private information is likely to be more easily accessed through these programs. Many of the programs allow any and all of your files and directories to be accessed and shared, meaning Joe Shmoe could more easily steal your credit card numbers, social security numbers, and other highly sensitive material that he once couldn’t because of your firewall. This is because you have allowed the program to by-pass all security software.
And of course these programs involve their users in piracy. According to Federal law, sharing a file is not illegal, meaning you and Joe can share the same CD, as long as only one copy exists. The copyright infringement arises when copies are produced and shared. The Recording Industry Association of America has several lawsuits pending for several companies and individuals who have violated this legal definition repeatedly.
If using file sharing programs is necessary to you, your family, or your business, please be aware that these programs have been know to cause enormous damage. We would recommend you back up your system daily, and please contact us for suggestions on security issues. Please contact us with any questions or concerns on file sharing programs and your computer.