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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How to Use Peer to Peer Safely

About P2P

P2P software is free, and legal to install and use, but it does make sharing of copyrighted material easy to do, and that is not legal. Are people still using P2P software after Napster got shut down? Yes, they certainly are. Free music downloads? Free software? -- well be careful about copyrighted materials, but the technology is interesting nonetheless. One of the best ways to get a large file, such as a linux iso file, is to use bit torrent.

Dangers

What are the dangers, and inconveniences of using peer to peer file sharing software such as Limewire, eDonkey, Azureus, or Bittorrent?

1.) The content quality is only as good as how trustworthy the peers are
2.) Some content is copyrighted, and may be illegal to share or download on this type of network
3.) Content may contain viruses, trojans, and decoys
4.) Excessive traffic may cause your ISP to limit your bandwidth usage
5.) Some downloads may take days to complete
6.) There may be pornography disguised as something else
7.) Some software may take up resources on your computer

Protocols

If you must use Peer to Peer file sharing software, try the File Donkey or Bit Torrent protocols. The products listed have legitimate uses, and are available on different platforms -- e.g. Linux, Mac, and Windows, but not all programs are listed here.

File Donkey

Has the advantage that things are easy to find, but downloads may take a few days.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/emule - eMule

Bit Torrent

Has the advantage of the fastest possible download, but finding torrent sites may be a challenge. Often used for large files, and recent releases.

http://www.bittorrent.com/ - Bittorrent

http://azureus.sourceforge.net/ -- Azureus

Azureus implements the BitTorrent protocol using java language and comes bundled with many invaluable features for both beginners and advanced users

http://aresgalaxy.sourceforge.net/ - Ares

Ares is a free open source file sharing program that enables users to share any digital file including images, audio, video, software, documents, etc.

Ares also has a good list of p2p risks:
http://aresgalaxy.sourceforge.net/p2prisks.htm

One of the most popular Bit Torrent sites has been http://www.suprnova.org -- Supernova, but now they started charging, so you'll have to decide if it's worth it. There are plenty of torrent sites you can find with a Google search.

Gnutella

Older, popular network, but there may be lot's of junk files, and downloads can be very slow. Also, some clients such as limewire are often considered to be resource hogs.

If you want use a gnutella client, such as limewire, consider using Creedence to identify junk files.

http://www.limewire.com/ -- Limewire

http://sourceforge.net/projects/credence/ -- Creedence

Credence is a decentralized system for identifying spam and decoy files in peer-to-peer networks. Credence is a complete Gnutella client, built on LimeWire, that lets you vote on objects and filters junk files from your search results.

Older gnutella client software either had spyware and adware built-in, e.g. Bearshare, Kazaa, or the network got flooded with spyware and adware, which caused the software to be blamed.

Privacy Protection

If you are afraid of being tracked for using a P2P network, you can block sites by using software such as PeerGuardian -

http://phoenixlabs.org/pg2/ -- Peer Guardian

PeerGuardian 2 is Phoenix Labs’ premier IP blocker for Windows. PeerGuardian 2 integrates support for multiple lists, list editing, automatic updates, and blocking all of IPv4 (TCP, UDP, ICMP, etc), making it the safest and easiest way to protect your privacy on P2P.

Also, make sure you have antivirus and anti-spyware utilites installed, if you are running Windows connected to the internet.

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