Technology has improved the way firms conduct their operations. For instance, it has enabled firms to increase their marketing activities through social media platforms. Moreover, it has reduced operational costs since firms can maintain online enterprises that do not require brick and mortar setups (Gupta et al., 2012). Despite these benefits, technology has created new problems for business entities and people. This paper will identify all risks that arise from using peer to peer file sharing programs. The paper will also identify and discuss three viable technologically based solutions to deal with the risks. After evaluating the three viable solutions, the paper will recommend the most effective solution to deal with most of the risks. Lastly, the paper will present the risks and solutions assessment in the form of a table.
The rise of technology has revolutionized how business entities conduct their operations. It has created solutions that has improved the competitiveness of firms and hence enhanced business returns. However, as technology continues to provide benefits to business entities and people, it is slowly creating other problems. This paper intends to explore the risks of using a peer-to-peer file sharing program in a business setup. The paper will also provide solutions that will aid in enhancing the security of data and software when using the peer to peer sharing file sharing applications. Lastly, the paper will provide a matrix that compares risks associated with peer to peer sharing software with the associated technological solutions.
Risks of the peer to peer file sharing application
First, a peer to peer sharing application allows people to share files such as spreadsheets, music or video files from one computer device or server to another using a network (David, 2010). In a business setup, the P2P application enables workers to share large volumes of data that cannot be transferred over emails. It has thus helped firms enhance their marketing powers since firms can send a large volume of promotional content such as videos and podcasts to many potential clients simultaneously.
The risks of file sharing programs begin with a download/installation of the application on firms’ desktops, laptops, servers or any other computer devices. Installation of these applications makes the company’s computers susceptible to attacks. In most occasions, P2P program demands users to open ports on their firewall for the purpose of the file transfer. However, as users open these ports, hackers gain access to the computer and hence they can manipulate computer files or steal sensitive data. Once a company’s computer or server becomes attacked, the vulnerability can spread over the network to other informational resources of the company. For instance, the intranet resources used by a company’s network system become exposed to attack. In some cases, the P2P applications can manipulate the firewalls of computer systems without the knowledge of the user and expose the system to attacks. Unfortunately, some workers do not take security measures when downloading and installing P2P programs on their computers. They may download a program prepared by a potential client and share files over the network of the company and hence make computers vulnerability to attacks (Schmidt, Dolfsma & Keuvelaar, 2007).
Apart from increasing susceptibility to attacks, the use of P2Pprograms may create legal problems for a company (David, 2010). Some files shared over these applications are sometimes pirated or copyrighted content and hence if a worker downloads or shares these files they may attract prosecution from the owners of the content. Good examples of copyrighted materials include music and video files. Musicians owning these audio or video files may sue the company for piracy and hence attract hefty fines for the company. Besides pirated content, P2P application users may share pornographic content over the network, and this may bring ethical issues especially with customers and law enforcement agencies.
As mentioned earlier, when using the P2Pprogram it is almost impossible to track the origin of the shared files and hence attackers can use the file sharing capability to transmit malicious code to computer systems. For instance, hackers may integrate viruses or other malicious programs into the files. The risk of the malicious code could be great if the software is downloaded from the company’s servers since the entire company’s network systems will become crippled. Therefore, when a user downloads the files, their computers become infected with the viruses. In such a scenario, the entire computers of an organization may become affected. Another danger of malicious codes is that they can be used to steal sensitive company data such as clients’ information or company’s strategies. In case of data, leakage customers may lose trust with the company or file lawsuits that may have a negative impact on the reputation of the company. P2P program also affects the traffic of an organization’s program especially when many people are downloading and sharing files over the network. When the firm’s network is overwhelmed by heavy data transfer, some operations become affected. Moreover, the P2P program may affect the speed of internet connection hence affected essential operations for the company (Wrisley, Dormann & McDowell, 2010).
Technology based solutions
It is thus clear, the use of P2P program presents a whole set of risks and if these risks are not well addressed, the entire activities of a business entity may become affected. The following three technology-based solutions will help deal with the risks posed by the use of the peer to peer file sharing applications. First, the organization should acquire and install antivirus programs to all computers of the organizations. Ideally, the anti-virus program should be downloaded on the organization’s servers to ensure the entire computer system is protected (Wrigley, Dormann & McDowell, 2010). The downloaded antivirus program can then be deployed to workers, clients’ computers and other devices. An antivirus program will provide many benefits for the company. First, it will scan all files on the servers and get rid of any threats such as viruses or Trojan horses.
Secondly, the antivirus program will protect the computers’ operating systems and existing sensitive computers files. However, the antivirus program has some challenges. First, the antivirus program requires frequent updating to ensure it can tackle latest threats. Besides that, some viruses or malicious program may be powerful to overcome the protection provided by the antivirus program and hence penetrate the computer systems and infect files. Therefore, having an antivirus program does not guarantee full protection to computers or the organization’s servers.
Data encryption forms another important technology solution to deal with risks associated with peer to peer sharing applications. An organization should ensure it encrypts its data that is shared on any network. However, to ensure the encryption becomes a success, an organization should identify and creates a pool of users it shares data. Once the organization has established a segment of users it shares data with it, should then share a strong password with the users so that they can decrypt files shared on the network. The main benefit of the encryption technology is that it locks out unwanted users from accessing files shared by users with passwords (Laudon & Traver, 2013). On the other hand, its disadvantage is that if the passwords given to users become accessible to unauthorized people they can use it to decrypt files hence exposing the company’s informational resources to attacks. However, despite this challenge, the encryption solution provides a great way of protecting the usability of the P2P sharing program.
Thirdly, organizations should develop and enable the firewall for their computers. A firewall is a security mechanism that monitors incoming and outgoing traffic on a network (Laudon & Traver, 2013). The firewall is configured to allow certain data while restrict unauthorized data. For instance, when a user sends data to a private network, the firewall assesses if the data meets the conditions of the firewall before it is allowed to penetrate. Despite these benefits, the P2P application can bring risks if the firewall is not activated. Failure to activate the firewall makes the computers susceptible to attacks.
As seen above, there are various technologically based solutions to deal with the risks associated with peer to peer sharing applications. However, the most effective solution to deal with most of the risks highlighted earlier is the creation and activation of a firewall (Gupta et al., 2012). As mentioned earlier, the firewall provides many benefits as compared to the other solutions. Establishing a firewall will deal with risks such as preventing unauthorized access to the organization’s network, it will prevent hackers from installing malicious codes as well as reduce traffic congestion on the company’s network.
David, M. (2010). Peer to peer and the music industry: The criminalization of sharing. Los Angeles: SAGE.
Gupta, M., Walp, J., Sharman, R., Strasburg, C., Wong, J. S., Nguyen, H. T., . . . Axelrod, C. W. (2012). Threats, countermeasures, and advances in applied information security. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.
Laudon, K. C., & Traver, C. G. (2013). E-commerce: Business, technology, society.
Schmidt, A. H., Dolfsma, W., & Keuvelaar, W. (2007). Fighting the war on file sharing. The Hague: T.M.C Asser.
Wrisley, B., Dormann, W., & Mcdowell, M. (2010). Risks of File-Sharing Technology | US-CERT. Retrieved from https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips/ST05-007