In its early days, file sharing involved the sharing of a storage device. The first method of file sharing to be used implied the usage of floppy discs, followed by the ‘burning of CDs and DVDs.’ Then there came portable hard drives and flash drives. Still, all these methods required one to take a physical item and drop it at a friend’s or colleague’s present location.
Throughout all those years, the only worry about the safety and wellbeing of the files shared was over losing the storage device or it getting corrupted. The system has changed, and now we depend on online file sharing methods. You can click a couple of buttons to be presented with a wide range of file sharing options. That said, at the moment, professionals and anyone interested in sharing have to search how to stay safe when sharing files online.
These days, data can easily be uploaded and shared on peer-to-peer networks. You want software, music, pictures, or something else? Visit your favourite file-sharing forum and search for what you need by the title. Yet you should keep in mind that because most P2P networks are usually riddled with malware, phishing and a lot of risks, file sharing can come with serious threats for your PC.
Most of the common P2P networks come with a disclaimer for users to note that they are using the site at their own risk. Usually, most of us don’t read the terms and conditions, talk less of the fine print. The list of risks associated with file-sharing websites is super long, but for the sake of productivity, we have outlined the top three that you most definitely need to be concerned about.
Three Top Risks
- Identity Theft
The first risk that you need to be concerned about is putting yourself in harm’s way. Just by visiting a file-sharing website, you can open you (your identity) up to various kinds of fraud. Although these P2P sites present a concept of being anonymous, this is not the case. Behind the scenes, important details, including your IP address, which is essentially your location, can be shown to other site users who can misuse them without your knowledge.
Coupled with the fact that infected files that can be named and disguised as the file you’re searching for can slip past your computer’s defence, identity theft can be even a more serious issue. With just your correct name and device location, phishers can access additional information and use it to target your other online activity until they get your private and financial details.
There are well-known third parties that sell such ‘information’ to call centres and other similar organisations. You can avoid being a victim of identity theft by trying to use only trustworthy file-sharing sources. Before downloading any file, check that it comes with permission from the copyright holder as using pirated software and files could lead to serious legal ramifications. Anyway, even if you get away with the copyright issues, you might not be so lucky to escape all the risks associated with downloading suspicious unsecured files.
- A Broken Defence System
Malicious files uploaded on some P2P networks are designed to manoeuvre around your computer’s defence. You might try downloading a file and it will ask that you remove or open certain parts of your firewall to get things done. If you don’t know better, you won’t see anything wrong with this request and give the required permission, and thus begins a long battle of fighting against viruses and whatever else that managed to get through.
Knowing what the dangers of file sharing are before you start downloading from P2P sites might save you. Thinking nothing is out of the ordinary and giving even the smallest leeway to unknown files opens your computer to attacks. Hackers on the site can easily gain access to your computer. Even worse, outside criminals can take advantage of the situation and find loopholes.
- Malicious Software
The nature of P2P networks makes it possible for one file to be shared to millions of computers globally in as little as one day. This makes these files the perfect tool for hackers to attach malicious software. Cybercriminals are notorious for disguising their malware in data files that will then be pirated and presented to unsuspecting downloaders who are under the impression that they are downloading the file that they have been searching for on secure sites and failing to find.
Once downloaded, the malware from the infected file quickly gets to work, spreading throughout the computer and connected computer networks. The entire network can end up being attacked based on a single download. Since one can never be careful enough, the only way to stay safe would be to download files from secure websites. Although P2P networks make it easy to find files that might need to be paid for on other sites or be inaccessible in certain jurisdictions, once the malware they disseminate is in the system, it might become too expensive to clean it out. Avoid the risks and go with secure file-sharing websites.
Strengthen Your Firewalls and Computer Defences
There is only one answer to the question, “How to stay safe when file sharing online?” You will have to keep your system under locks and bolts. Regardless of the kind of file-sharing software you choose to use, keeping your defences and firewalls up is the best way forward. You should establish sufficient protection on your computer to prevent unwanted attacks.
If you don’t want to unintentionally spread your personal information or leave your PC susceptible to attacks, consider using a strong firewall to protect your computer. Otherwise, for as much as possible, stay away from P2P file-sharing websites. Nothing good will come out of your interactions with them.
If you’re worried about the risks that come with file-sharing websites, you can avoid this stress altogether by going with trusted and secure sites. One such site is FileWhopper. You can use FileWhopper with your close friends and colleagues. To get started, whoever has music, documents, movies or whatever else that needs to be shared can visit the site and choose the file that needs to be sent. The FileWhopper App assists you to upload a file or folder regardless of its size at super-fast speeds. During the upload, the uploader is supplied with a personal link to where the upload is stored. This link can then be shared with those who have been selected as recipients while the upload is still in process. Along the link, you’ll also get a password that tightens security ensuring safe file delivery. Once downloaded, the file or folder is deleted from the server. Talk about efficiency and security.