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Music Sharing - Harmless Entertainment or Enterprise Risk?

File sharing programs may be an entry point for malware

A recently reported malicious program results in the modification of media files such as MP3 files so that when they are played they pop up a message indicating a special media codec must be installed to play them. The message has a link pointing to a web site that attempts to compromise the computer and install keyboard logging software.

One computer gets infected and all the files it shares are infected.

Similar malicious files have been found on file sharing networks in the past.

File sharing programs may introduce vulnerabilities due to software defects

Like almost all other software programs, file sharing programs are often discovered to have defects which break the security assumptions made about them. The defects may allow others to take control of the computer running the file sharing program or gain access to data not intended to be shared.

File sharing programs may result in inadvertent data disclosure

File sharing programs are designed to share files. If mistakes are made during installation, configuration, or operation, files that are not intended to be shared may become available worldwide. Several data disclosure incidents have been caused by mishandled file sharing programs. Indeed, the programs may be designed to make it hard for users to abstain from sharing files ( see U.S. Patent and Trademark Office PDF Report "Technological Features to Induce Users to Share" ).

File sharing programs may result in organizational and personal financial liability due to copyright violations

Various organizations, most notably the RIAA and MPAA aggressively search out computers sharing copyrighted materials. The persons and organizations responsible for those computers and networks, may face large fines.

Miscellaneous risks associated with file sharing programs:

  • File sharing programs may result in the download of misleading, misrepresented, inaccurate, incomplete, and/or illegal content
  • The file sharing program itself may be corrupted or compromised depending upon its source and distribution
  • The file sharing program may install unrelated software
  • File sharing programs easily consume all available JMU Internet bandwidth when given the chance