File Sharing and Downloading Threats
Dangers of file sharing, P2P viruses and downloads
The Internet is loaded with free files you can download, from screensavers and icons to music, articles and much more. But free files often come with a big cost: a computer infected with spyware. Some devious online predators also impersonate real companies to get you to download malware. How can seemingly safe file sharing leave you vulnerable to spyware and, as a result, identity theft and potential loss of money? It all starts with a simple click. Here’s where the dangers of file sharing lie:
- You find a file you want and begin downloading it:
- Text files such as articles and white papers
- Music files such as MP3 files and ring tones
- Video files
- Icons and graphics such as emoticons
- Screensavers, wallpaper and more
- Spyware is attached to the downloaded file,
- Secretly and without your permission, or,
- Disclosed in the fine print of a User License Agreement you may not have read.
- Spyware silently loads itself on your computer and begins running in the background.
Your computer and identity are now at risk. Spyware begins its sinister mission, which can include:
- Monitoring your computer activities
- Collecting your personal information
- Bombarding you with pop-ups
- Altering files and causing computer crashes
Practice safe file sharing.
There’s really no debating this point: it is next to impossible to avoid the dangers of file sharing without the use of computer security software. There are reputable sites that offer spyware-free freeware but it’s difficult to investigate every free program to distinguish between the good and bad. Take these steps to fortify your computer security right away:
- Avoid the dangers of file sharing by avoiding questionable Web sites
- Only download software from sites you trust.
- Pay careful attention to what you’re downloading and know what other programs you’ve agreed to along with the original file
- The next time you’re redirected to a site that tempts you to install a search toolbar, screen saver, smiley faces or cute cursors, think twice
- Beware of P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing services or avoid them all together
- P2P network clients often load spyware onto your PC when you install their software
- The files you swap and share (photos, music, videos or games) may contain malicious programs.
- Update your operating system regularly
- Increase your browser security settings
- Make sure that you have the best security software products installed on your PC:
- Use antivirus protection and a firewall
- Get antispyware software protection
Stay safe online
Safe file sharing begins by avoiding unwanted programs in the first place. An unprotected computer is like an open door for files laced with spyware and computer viruses. Firewalls monitor Internet traffic in and out of your computer and hide your PC from online scammers looking for easy targets. Products like Webroot Internet Security Essentials and Webroot AntiVirus with Spy Sweeper thwart spyware and viruses before they can enter your PC, stand guard at every possible entrance of your computer and fend off threats that try to enter, even the most damaging and devious strains. While free antispyware and antivirus downloads are available, they just can’t keep up with the continuous onslaught of new spyware strains. Previously undetected forms of spyware and viruses can often do the most damage, so it’s critical to have up-to-the-minute, guaranteed protection.