Imagine, you missed the episode of the Game of Thrones which you’re very excited to catch. To satisfy your cravings, you fired up your favourite browser then searched for links to download it. It just so happens that after scrolling the internet, you found the episode you’re looking for in a file-sharing site — what a blessing! Without any hesitation, you clicked on the link then proceeded to download the video. After a searing minute of anticipation (yes, we assumed your internet would be that fast) for your episode to finish downloading, the time has come. Excitement abound, you double-clicked on the file. But then, a red screen flashed right up your face — “A Virus Has Been Detected in Your System”.
Frustrations aside, we always experience this scenario when we download a movie, a software or any files from file-sharing sites. This may be the easy way to download what we want, but there are precautions that we should be mindful. IT Security Services Australia has provided a list on what risks to look after when exploring and using a file-sharing website.
Sharing of Personal Data
Some file-sharing sites such as torrent sites often require access to a folder designated for file-sharing. But what if you accidentally chose to share an entire folder that’s chock-full of sensitive information? This can be troubling, especially in an organisation where files like payroll documents, employee files and other confidential business files may be compromised. You don’t want that to happen. However, this is only possible if that data is kept in the same place where your torrents are being stored. Unless you practised storing your important files to your torrent download folder, your business files should be secure. Then again, it’s a good idea to turn off sharing of these folders.
If you read the above warning, you’ll get this idea: There is a wolf in a sheep’s clothing. Files that are in file-sharing sites can contain malicious software that, if downloaded and executed, can cripple your business to a screeching halt. Torrent files are no exception, as they also pose the biggest risk in carrying this nasty software. It may be uncommon for someone to open a file that might contain malicious program; but still, precautions should be taken. Always remember that after downloading any files from the internet, do not forget to scan the file with an antivirus program before running or opening it. Or if in any case you’ve infected your computer with a virus or malware, you can contact IT Services Australia on how to remove them.
Legality of the Files
The biggest risk when downloading from file-sharing sites has nothing to do with malware infections or data leaks but rather on the validity of files contained in every file-sharing sites. Almost all files in file-sharing sites contain copyrighted materials, making sharing of such data unlawful. Worse, the odds that the sharer will get caught are much higher than ever before. Due to the recent actions of film and music industries over the rampant activities of online pirating, they have sought the help of experts to track down these offenders through their IP addresses and embedded trackers hidden in the files. Penalties in this offense can reach up to 10 years’ imprisonment and as much as $250,000 in fines. To avoid being in this situation — which isn’t good for your business reputation — downloading non-copyrighted files or freeware is recommended. Avoiding the use of file-sharing sites is safer though.
See Through the Bait
As file-sharing sites offer you many ways to quickly share files across the internet, it’s still recommended to be ever vigilant and remember the risks when downloading and opening files from the internet. If you do this, chances are you’ll get the legitimate GOT episode you missed last night — from a legitimate source, of course.