Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert
Peer to peer file sharing is a great technology used to share data over peer networks. Itâ€™s also great software to get hacked and have your identity stolen.
Installing P2P software allows anyone, including criminal hackers, to access your data. This can result in data breaches, credit card fraud and identity theft. This is the easiest and, frankly, the most fun kind of hacking. Iâ€™ve seen reports of numerous government agencies, drug companies, mortgage brokers and others discovering P2P software on their networks after personal data was leaked.
The Register reports a Washington state man who admitted using the LimeWire file-sharing program to steal tax returns and other sensitive documents has been sentenced to more than three years in federal prison.
The guy would search the hard drives of LimeWire users for files that contained words such as “statement,” “account” and “tax.pdf.” He would then download tax returns, bank statements, and other sensitive documents and use them to forge counterfeit checks and steal the identity of the individuals who filled out the documents.
I did a story with a Fox News reporter and a local family who had 4 kids, including a 15 year old with an iPod full of tunes, but no money. I asked dear old dad where she got all her music and he replied â€œI have no ideaâ€. What he didnâ€™t know was she had installed P2P on the family PC and was sharing the families data with the world. The reporter asked much personal information I could find on the P2P network in 5 minutes, I responded, “lets do it in 1 minute”.
There are millions of PCs loaded with P2P software and the parents are clueless their data is in the hands of identity thieves. P2P is the path of least resistance into a persons computer. Make sure your PC isnâ€™t loaded with P2P.
- Donâ€™t install P2P software on your computer.
- If you arenâ€™t sure whether a family member or employee has installed P2P software, check to see whether anything unfamiliar has been installed. A look at your â€œAll Programs Menuâ€ will show nearly every program on your computer. If you find an unfamiliar program, do an online search to see what it is youâ€™ve found.
- Set administrative privileges to prevent the installation of new software without your knowledge.
- If you must use P2P software, be sure that you donâ€™t share your hard driveâ€™s data. When you install and configure the software, donâ€™t let the P2P program select data for you.
- Get a credit freeze. Go to ConsumersUnion.org and follow the steps for your particular state. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.
- And invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft protection can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk.
Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing P2P Hacks on Fox