Why Is The IT Guy At Work Banning P2P?

Many people at offices around the world hate their IT guy.

The reason why they hate him is because he is made out to be the bad guy all of the time.

When they want to be able to go on to Facebook from the job, he is the one that has the network settings ready to block the site.

If they think that they have a funny tweet that they must share to the world, he is the one that is blocking that site as well.

And again, if they want to be able to download their favorite music from a P2P client while at work or school he is the one that is blocking that site too.

While the first two examples of Facebook and Twitter might be simple time wasters and are not that important, the last one on the list may have security implications for the IT guy to worry about.

It is not an overreaction for the IT guy that is in charge of the local network to block off P2P services.

In the following article I will talk about what P2P services are and how they can affect the security on your network.

After you read this article you might not be as mad at the IT guy for simply doing the right thing.

why would my employer want to keep P2P off their company network?

why would my employer want to keep P2P off their company network?

What Is A P2P Client?

The letters P2P stand for Peer to Peer.

Peer to Peer software allows you to be able to connect to another person’s computer so that you are able to download a file from them.

In the past, if you wanted to get a file from another person, they would have to upload the file to a server and then you would download that same file directly from the server.

The majority of the web still works in that same manner but with P2P software since you are able to download directly from the other person, you are able to get the file in less time provided that they have a decent connection on their end as well.

You can only go as fast as the person that you are connecting to.

How Can A P2P Client Affect The Security On Your Network?

When you install most P2P software on your system, it will create a folder that will allow the file that is going to be downloaded to stay in.

This same folder is also the place where someone who is looking to download a file will look at as well.

Not all P2P clients work this way but most do.

With BitTorrent for example, you have to go to a web site to search for the files that you want.

Once you have found them, the torrent will point you to the tracker with the file that you are looking for.

Other P2P clients such as Limewire will look in your designated folder and if you have the file that a person on the other side is looking for, they will allow them to download it.

This ability to search your folders is what can put your company in danger.

When most people save files, they usually save it in one place in the computer.

If this folder is in the same place as where your P2P software searches at then you are in trouble – all of your company secrets are available for anyone to see.

It doesn’t take much for you to put together the consequences of such an action.

A competitor can find that information and act on it.

But the spilling of company secrets is not the only thing that you have to worry about when it comes to P2P software.

There are plenty of viruses that get downloaded by people who use this software as well.

The bad guys know that they are able to easily put malware on people’s computers by disguising the name of the files that the person is clicking on.

While they might think that they are clicking on the latest MP3, they are actually clicking on a piece of software that will load up the latest virus on the network.

This is one of the biggest reasons why your IT guy does not want you to place software such as this on the computers at work.

A reason that does not get talked about as much for the banning of P2P software on work computers is the fact that the software can leave the company legally responsible for allowing their workers to break copyright laws.

No employer wants to be in a legal dispute because one of their employees is doing something illegal on company time.

Not all of the things that people download with P2P software is illegal but but some of it is.

There is no reason why you cannot wait until you get home to do any downloading that you might want to do.

Any good IT guy is going to ban software such as P2P off of your computers at work.

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.

Comments

  1. The problem is slightly the security, but the larger problem is the amount of bandwidth you are using. When you p2p you are pulling down and pushing up often massive amounts of data, and businesses often do not have large enough WAN (internet) pipes to handle a whole lot of massive downloading. Besides p2p software often opens up so many hundreds of connections that it overwhelms to core routers, causing all network traffic in the business to grind to a halt.

    Remember, your department may be crying poor, but so us your IT department, they often can’t convince the higher ups in faster Internet pipes and more powerful routers, so they have to try to lighten the load on the equipment, that means stopping you people from downloading too much / illeagily

    • Thanks for the comment Alex. I still ascertain that malware is a huge issue with P2P but bandwidth issues are quite significant too.

  2. This doesn’t need to happen. I have been using P2P file sharing for five years without any problems. I understand that crooks can disguise files as mp3’s and such but it usually is noticeable for one to set apart a clean file from a virus infected file. First, a person should always look and see how many people have already downloaded that file. Most of the time if a lot of people are continually downloading something then it must be clean. Second, pay attention to the file name. Anytime the file name looks sketchy which includes unnecessary letterings or symbols then it could very well be a virus infected file. All in all, virus’s can be avoided. If you don’t think these steps work for you invest in good antivirus software! I don’t think it is necessary to go all out and ban P2P clients.

    • I totally agree that a good antivirus program would make a difference but how many employees would get away with installing one on their work computer do you think?

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