May 30th, 2011 Deepak Sharma
Many small business do not monitor what is being downloaded on their computers. Most common download these days are torrent files. Torrents are usually used to download music, videos and software. Most of these programs are either copyright material, illegal bootleg copies or contain malicious software.
Potential Risk of Torrents:
Network Bandwidth: Small Businesses rely on basic internet connectivity. For example, Cable, T1, or DSL. These connections provide very limited bandwidth. Torrents can be huge problem for network bandwidth. When you open a torrent, it allows user to download and upload a file. This means, both upload and download speed of your network will be impacted by torrent. Video and Software torrents are normally bigger files. It can take hours to upload and download these kind of torrent files. Meaning hours of bad internet connectivity for the rest of the staff in your office.
Open Ports: Torrents open port in your system that allow outsiders to access your network via these open ports. In other words, a person sitting in another country can easily access your computer by using open port as the point of entry. This can be huge potential risk if you store any kind of customer data (e.g Name, Email, Social, Credit card) on your network. Open port can also be a huge risk if your business needs to comply with any kind compliance regulations such as HIPPA or PCI.
Illegal or Copy Righted Software: There is good chance that file being download via torrent is copyrighted document, music or video. Illegal Software Copies are also commonly found files on various torrent websites. Downloading these file on your company network and pose huge legal risk to your company.
Virus & Malicious Software:Torrent files are downloaded from multiple computers on the internet. Anyone of these computers can attach malicious software with the download . For example, you may download keylogger with bootleg copy of software. This keylogger will capture anything you type on your computer (e.g passwords, account numbers) and send the data to hacker. The hacker can later use this data to their advantage. Malicious software can also make it easy for hacker to access your computer any time.
Network Tracking: I would like you to make note of the fact that all your activity can be traced down to your IP address. In case there is a crack down on above mentioned illegal activities, you will find very hard time defending your actions because they will know exactly what IP address was used to download the files.
As you may have guessed, it is not advisable to use torrent on your business network. But in case you do want to or have to use torrent than you should do it with extreme precaution. You can get some good suggestions about staying safe on torrent site from Daniel Synder. You can visit his article, “How can I stay safe on torrent site
Next week, I will write about steps you can take to ensure that no one in your company can download torrent files. In a mean while, share your thoughts about torrents. How torrents have helped you or created problems for your business network.