Peer-to-Peer File Sharing: A Guide for Business

Peer-to-Peer File Sharing: A Guide for Business

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Peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing is a modern-day aid for sharing of files which is in widespread use. It is based on the peer-to-peer network, which involves a network of computers to enable them to share peripheral devices, computing power, hard drives, files, etc. This innovation has been widely abused by pirates who use it to commit their misdeeds.

What is P2P?

P2P file sharing involves sharing multimedia, electronic books and other digital content over a link between at least two computers called peers. The sending peer is referred to as the seed while the peer receiving the file is termed the leech. It is important to note that this is not the same as with the Client/server model, which is used on the internet. Our computers are the clients, and the requests we input are served us from a database. P2P sharing has higher bandwidth and is more affordable for each peer. Since many businesses may need to obtain sensitive information like credit card details, personal data and many more from their clients, there is a need to understand the implications of using P2P file sharing to obtain these and to know how to minimize risks involved in sharing such files. Documents can be scanned using a lot of software; File Center is one of the best scanner software for Windows and shared using P2P.

What are the risks involved in P2P?

P2P enables people to download files and make them available for others to download by putting them in an accessible folder. As humans, we are not immune to mistakes, and a person can make a mistake of sharing the wrong folder and documents which may possess rather sensitive information. Sometimes, this mix-up is beyond the power of the operator of the seed peer. For example, in the case of malware, there can be an unintentional reshuffling and swapping of folder contents which could put sensitive information at risk. The effects of these events are irreversible more often than not as the more files that are intended to be shared will be downloaded. Sensitive information like credit report, passwords, evidence for court cases, and many more can be thrown all over the PEP network with drastic consequences in view. Imperfections in the P2P network can predispose an organization’s network to attacks.

How to protect sensitive information on P2P

To protect your private documents some sage things to include;

Intentional monitoring of your file sharing network to prevent intruders

Training your employees who will work with P2P to be aware of the inherent risks involved,

Using the right file naming styles,

Rid your computer of sensitive information that you do not need,

Make a restriction on where files with sensitive information can be stored, and if the computer in question is used to access sensitive information, refrain from using P2P on it.

Due to the risks which are usually involved, you may want to ban P2P in your organization’s network, but before you do that, you would want to determine if the sensitive information on the computer is relevant to the business or not. If it is not, you should consider deleting them entirely from the computer. If the information is useful, you should consider how useful it is, weigh the benefits of using P2P in the presence of such information with the risks involved. You should also consider other safer and effective methods of file sharing. Should you decide to ban the use of P2P, you must take measures to prevent the installation of such applications. This will be achieved by finding out if there are any functional ones on the computers and taking proactive steps to block the traffic generated by them.

Administrative controls will help you restrict access to sites that encourage P2P file sharing like those that provide free downloads. You can also prevent the installation of P2P software. Sometimes, you cannot rule out the possibility of some employees playing smart or some applications trying to defeat your measures for security. You can detect functioning P2P software and block the traffic they generate. Scanning and network monitoring tools help find and remove P2P sharing software. Another method is to check your records for any pointers to the presence of these applications. Various tools can protect against data loss. They enable you to differentiate a file containing sensitive information from one free of such and to treat them as required. You should also install tools that help you keep records of all file transfers

P2P and Cloud computing?

Although clients cannot research the credibility of secure storage, it is widely in use for file sharing. In P2P, however, every peer is in the know of the source and somewhat the whereabouts of shared files. This makes it appear like a better kind of cloud computing technique. People prefer cloud computing because they provide ready access to files, and they are reliable. These qualities are improved upon in P2P, and they are more cost effective. You may read this article on Tech Differences and get ideas between P2P and Cloud.

Protect your company’s sensitive information

Try not to make the file names descriptive of what they contain as this is less likely to give them away. You should also monitor unauthorized P2P networks, which may make sensitive information more vulnerable. A security professional is your best bet managing these things. Application-level encryption helps to protect your files even if they are shared on P2P. Ensure that your passwords and keys are safe. You should try to restrict sharing or receipt of sensitive information to some particular locations.

If you choose to use P2P, you must put things in place to minimize the risks involved. Ensure you have proper security policies such that your partner’s, clients, and staff must comply with to gain access to files. Take quality time to educate your staff on these needs as well as keeping sensitive information of the company. This is best done with as a teamwork approach.

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