How Can Downloading Illegal Files Put My Computer Security At Risk?

Since the advent of the Napster file transfer service, there has been a war between the traditional media businesses and the average user of these services.

The RIAA tried to fight the services by suing the users but the plan backfired.

Now downloading illegal files is as popular as ever, maybe even more so.

The computer software industry has been dealing with this same problem for years and still have not figured out a way to solve it.

While this fight between big business and their customers has been going on, there was a quiet storm brewing in the background.

Hacker’s Playground

Hackers figured out how to use these services to their advantage.

Now it is not the RIAA that you have to worry about when using these services so much as the actual files themselves.

There are several ways that a hacker can use these services to his advantage.

The first way that an attacker can use this to his or her advantage is through the use of easy access to folders on the victims computer.

When services such as Bearshare and Limewire first started out, the default folder that they would send your downloaded files to was the “My Documents” folder in Windows.

This would cause a major security breach since Windows would default to the same folder most of the time it wanted you to save a file.

Having that folder shared on the network would expose it to the outside world.

If you saved anything important in the folder, then people would be able to download it and read it for themselves.

This led to the exposure of many important files such as, tax files, social security numbers, loan information and all other types of important information that you may have stored on your computer.

These days the service creates their own folder so that you can store files while keeping your documents safe but some people still end up forwarding their downloads to “My Documents” anyway.

Hidden Malware

Another way that you are exposed to danger when you download illegal files is downloading malware that is hidden in the guise of a normal file.

You may think that you are downloading a MP3 but in reality it is an exe file and will execute a dangerous program when you double click on it.

These file services are known to host every virus, trojan, and worm that you can think of.

In the quest to get free movie and music, people are putting their computer security at risk.

If you are going to use these services, at the very least remember to do an antivirus scan every time that you download something.

This will save you a lot of pain later on down the line.

Transferring illegal files on and off your computer can place your system at risk.

When you are on these services you will have to be very careful when downloading the files.

If there seems to be something a little bit wrong about the file, I would recommend that you do not download it.

It may be a little thing such as the file being smaller than normal or the name being off slightly.

No matter what it is, avoid downloading that file.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


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