Despite an onslaught of legal threats from the music industry, illegal P2P networks are attracting more users, including college students. The average number of illegal P2P users “almost doubled globally” between 2003 and 2005, according to market research firm Big Champagne.
Although P2P file sharing is a common way to exchange copyright-protected files illegally, such as movies and music, many schools, companies, and other organizations also use P2P file-sharing services for legal distribution of videos and other large files. For instance, educators, students, and researchers often use BitTorrent and other P2P services to share large data sets compiled during their research.
Common ways to avoid security failures on P2P networks include disconnecting the file-sharing program when it’s not being used to download files; updating the program with security patches designed to stop hackers; and occasionally using spyware to scan computers for any unwanted or unidentified downloads that can pose a threat to everyone using the file-sharing program, the FTC said.
FTC data breach announcement