|18 Oct 2011||#2|
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If you download software using P2P (Peer-to-Peer) programs, you don't always know what you are getting. P2P programs form a direct conduit on to your computer. They have always been a target of malware writers and are increasingly so of late. P2P security measures are easily circumvented and if your P2P program is not configured correctly, you may be sharing more files than you realize. There have been cases where people's passwords, address books and other personal, private, and financial details have been exposed to the file sharing network by a badly configured program.
With P2P file sharing, what means do you have of identifying or authenticating the source of the download? In addition, a file can be distributed among many hosts, and peers will provide for download the sections that they have already downloaded. This results in the distinct possibility of a distribution method in which malicious bits are mixed with with good files.
Further, just because you find a software program advertised on a website does not mean that it is a safe product. Always research programs before downloading and download from the vendor site when ever possible.
If the computer isn't kept up to date, including third party software such as Java SE and Adobe products as well as Microsoft security updates, it is vulnerable to drive-by downloads.
As to whether malware can steal your credit card information, yes, as well as your banking logon and other personal information. That is not to say that all malware is going to result in the loss of personal data but it can indeed happen.
The best defense is a good offense --
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