It is a sad but realistic fact that over 70% of my on-site computer calls are trojan and virus related. One common item that is present over 60% of the time is the popular file sharing program LimeWire. Is LimeWire the carrier of hostile attacks on the home user computer? I think the numbers here speak for themselves. This is also obvious by doing a search on Google for limeWire trojan where you will see the many complaints of people that have either downloaded software infected with trojans or a trojan was installed with the program during installation. It should be noted that most of the complaints regarding the LimeWire software bundling adware with the program are of the older versions.
LimeWire claims to not have any type of spyware or adware bundled with their software and I would have to agree with that statement as of the latest version 4.18.6. However, LimeWire gives very good advice on how to safely use any type of P2P file sharing program. That being said, I want to clarify that I am not picking on LimeWire as a program. LimeWire is a very popular program for file sharing and along with this popularity comes many risks by using it. This program as well as any other P2P file sharing program can be used in a safe manor and can enable the home user to download many enjoyable hours of music and programs.
If you are going to use any type of P2P file sharing programs or download torrent files, there are some very strict security policies that you will need to put into place before using the program. As with all of my lessons in these pages I will try to keep the instructions as understandable to the common home computer user. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask.
First, you must have installed, update and actively scan with good anti-virus and anti-spyware programs. The original concept of these type of programs were to share files by people over a network of friends. The files being shared were shared with others that you knew and could trust. However, today popular programs like these can have way over 1 million users, so there is just no way that you can know all of these users.
Before you even download any type of P2P program please be sure to have an anti-virus program installed and updated. I recommend webroot however their is also a free home version available. You can easily set this program to update automatically. Scan all of your download folders after each session and before using any of the files. This is especially true of program files. Best practice to use for program files is to copy them to a folder outside the program and scan that folder. Most of the file sharing programs will not let you install any other programs from within for just this reason. Program files are described as any file having the .exe, .vbs, .lnk, .bat, .sys, or .com.
Next, be sure to have anti-spyware programs installed and updated. I have two software recommendations to help protect your computer from the hostile attacks of trojans, spyware, adware and malware. The latest version (1.6.x) of Spybot Search & Destroy has seen much improvement over an already well written PC pest remover. If a machine I work on does not have this software installed on it when I get there, it does when I leave! That is how much I believe in this free product. Spybot S & D is user friendly for the home user, yet also has an advanced mode where certain options can be set to define how the program will interact with the owner after the initial setup. One of the big features of this program is that it allows the user to read about each of the problems found explaining what harm it can cause. I especially enjoy pointing this out when I am training my customers on the use of the security software that I install. Unlike many of the other techs in our area that just install the software, I make it a point to teach my clients how to update and use all of the anti-harm software I install on their computer. Make sure to use the update and immunize button on a regular basis when using this program for best practice. Note that this software is free, but does have a donation button. If you like the way it performs on your computer you might consider clicking that button. Unlike many other free programs, this one does not have or require any type of an upgrade and you will never see any type of an advertisement or nag asking you for money.
The next software I suggest works well with the two products above to create a computer security package that will not bog your computer down by using up precious resources. Download and install SuperAntiSpyware professional. This software has a free trial of the professional version or a free home user version. While both work well, the professional version has many advantages to it and is well worth the one time fee for the license. Real time protection and scheduled scanning with SuperAntiSpyware will help keep keep your computer free of trojans and spyware and is strongly suggested if you are going to be using any P2P programs.
Bottom line folks, you need this type of protection on your computer just being connected to the internet, but if you are using a file sharing program without them you are headed for disaster. The safest way to download music is through a paid program such as iTunes or Napster. If you want to go for the free stuff with programs like LimeWire, you are going to be at risk. The only way to lower the risk is to have good anti-harm software installed, keep it updated and scan often.