Risks of Installing Unauthorized File Sharing Software
The Executive Summary
The installation and use of unauthorized application or software on company computer is a very common thing among the employees. They may install these applications on servers, laptops and desktops. Some of these applications include VoIP, Messaging, games, as well as peer-to-peer file sharing applications (Blair & Kahn, 218). File sharing usually involves the use of the technology. This technology allows these internet users to share and distribute files and documents found on their individual computers among themselves. However, these softwares and applications usually introduce security risks, which may expose the computer as well as the information of the company in danger (Shelly, Thomas & Vermaat, 115). In so doing, the integrity of the company is put under question because of loss of the system integrity. In this paper, some of the risks associated with the use of such software will be discussed. In addition, the paper has discussed some of the alternative technological solutions to these problems.
The peer-to-peer file sharing programs enable computers to download documents and files (Subramanian & Brian, 64). Once this is done, such files will be available to the other users that are on the same network. The peer-to peer users are able to designate the drives as well as folders from which such files may be shared. Consecutively, other users can easily download and view all the files that are stored in such designated areas.
People using the peer-to-peer file sharing software are cable of sharing files by mistake. For example, these users may accidentally share folders or drivers containing sensitive information. In addition, they might save a private file into a shared folder or driver without their knowledge. In turn, this makes the private file to the rests of people that can access the shared folders and drives. Therefore, there is leakage of information, which may be dangerous depending on the nature of that private information. In a business setting, this private information may include sensitive corporate information. For individuals, it may include financial as well as personal medical data, documents, among other personal information. The availability of such information usually increases the risk of identity theft (Blair & Kahn, 218).
The other risk associated with the installation and usage of unauthorized software is the installation of malicious codes. The use of the peer-to-peer applications makes it difficult or impossible to verify whether the source of files is trustworthy or not (Knittel & Michael, 84). In most cases, these applications, or software are used by the internet attackers in transmitting malicious codes. These attackers may incorporate viruses, worms, spyware, or Trojan horses into the files. In case these files are downloaded into the computer, it becomes affected. Consequently, the computer becomes susceptible to attack. The applications may direct you into opening certain ports within your firewall in order to transmit the files. However, opening such ports give the attackers the chance of accessing your computer. Moreover, it enables them to attack your computer as they take an advantage of all the vulnerabilities, which may exist in the software. In fact, some of the software can penetrate and modify firewalls themselves without the knowledge of the users.
The installation of unauthorized software is also associated with the risk of denial of service. The process of downloading file often causes significant levels of traffic in the network (Knittel & Michael, 64). Due to this, this process reduces the availability of some programs on your computer. It may also limit the access to the internet. In turn, the usefulness of the computer becomes limited and this affects the operations. In case of a business, one is likely to incur losses due to the reduced production.
Lastly, sharing of files using the unauthorized software may involve use of pirated software, pornography, as well as copyrighted materials. Download and usage of such materials attracts fines and other legal actions (Knittel & Michael, 98).
All the above risks associated with the use of unauthorized software can be eliminated by avoiding the installation of such software on your computer. However, in case you are using such software, then you have to adapt to security practices that will minimize the risk involved.
One of the technologies to be used will involve installing and enabling a firewall. This will prevent some of the risks through blocking of the malicious traffic before gaining access to your computer (Blair & Randolph, 89). Most of the computer operating systems usually come with firewall; however, it is your duty to make sure that the firewall is enabled. The other way of eliminating the risk is by using and maintaining anti-virus software. This helps in recognizing and protecting the computer from various known viruses. However, it is important to know that the attackers keep on writing new viruses. Therefore, it is recommended that the anti-virus software is always updated. Lastly, the other solution will involve encrypting all the data on the computer, including the one to be shared through the network. This will help in protecting such information from attackers.
In summary, basing on the risks associated with unauthorized software, I recommend that such applications should not be installed or used on computers. Therefore, the best method to do so will be through the application of the firewall.
|What Is the Risk or Vulnerability?
|What Needs to Be Protected? (e.g., passwords, data, file backups, system registry)
|Candidate Technology Solution
|How the Technology Solution Works
|Effectiveness (High, Medium, Low)
|Interception of information
|Data both video and audio
|Nobody can access the data except those with the correct unlocking codes
|Medium (It is not very effective since mishandling the unlocking keys would still lead to information leakage)
|Spyware, viruses, Trojan horses, worms
|All the information in the computer
|It helps scanning the files before downloading. It notifies the users in case of any threat
|Low. This is because the attackers keep on writing new viruses that may by pass the application
|Viruses, spyware, malware, and other vulnerabilities associated with un-trusted network
|The intranet resources as well as the system registry
|Installation of firewall
|It protects the servers by blocking malicious traffic from gaining access to the computer
|High. It is very effective as the malicious codes cannot access the computer.
Blair, Barclay T., and Randolph Kahn. Information nation seven keys to information management compliance. Unabridged. ed. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2013. Print.
Knittel, John, and Michael Soto. Everything you need to know about the dangers of computer hacking. Rev. ed. New York: Rosen Pub. Group, 2003. Print.
Shelly, Gary B., Thomas J. Cashman, and Misty E. Vermaat. Discovering Computers 2009: Introductory. Boston, Mass.: Course Technology, 2008. Print.
Subramanian, Ramesh, and Brian D. Goodman. Peer to peer computing the evolution of a disruptive technology. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Pub., 2005. Print.