Both sides of the file-sharing phenomena have pointed out that participating in peer-to-peer networks can represent a serious security risk, not just in terms of the veracity of data downloaded but in potential proactive intrusion into your personal computer. The following are a few notes I’ve collected on the matter that you’re welcome to peruse.

First, let me preface that this is not a guide to defeating any copyright or security proceedures or legistlation. I am only outlining measures a prudent member of the internet and file sharing community may wish to consider observing in order to do their part to preserve the security and integrity of their property, privacy and responsibility.

Who’s Knocking at Your Door

Due to the enormous number of users and traffic its very unlikely you’ll be able to personally identify and choose whom you engage in a file sharing experience with. However, a few free or cheap products and their creators have made great efforts in identify the worst offenders of security and privacy in this realm and you can benefit from their hard work.

You have a firewall to keep out hackers, so why not have a firewall to keep out the privacy violators? If you’re running Windows, PeerGuardian does just that.

Each time you launch PeerGuardian, it downloads the latest list of known privacy and security violators and blocks them from connecting to your computer. The list contains hundreds of known IP-address ranges the used to infiltrate personal systems.

A little closer to home base is exactly what you use to engage in your file sharing. Several file sharing applications are little more than vehicles for spyware (activity and browsing habit information collectors) and adware (implanting commercial elements such as pop ups deep in your desktop). The following file sharing programs knowingly employ(ed) this “feature”:

  • KaZaa
  • Limewire
  • Audiogalaxy
  • Bearshare
  • Imesh
  • Morpheus
  • Grokster
  • Xolox
  • Blubster 2.x aka Piolet
  • OneMX
  • FreeWire As a side note, if you have employed one of these and are still suffering from its “features” you may wish to perform an uninstall of the offending software and regularly run Adwareuntil the side effects are thoroughly purged.The following file-swappers have been found not to have any spyware or other advertising parasites bundled into them:

    As well as my personal favorite, Kazaalite (not affiliated with Kazaa). In addition to employing the methods mentioned above by PeerGuardian, Kazaalite users of the latest versions also have the option of disabling a function that allows remote users to see what other files the user has. Also users may block port 1214 for additional security. In addition, the program does not save a user’s search history in the registry, and allows the option of erasing the search history automatically after exiting the program.