Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the “Informed P2P User Act”, a law that supposedly makes it safer to use peer-to-peer, or P2P file-sharing software, an effort which is like banning mosquitoes from sucking blood. Just ain’t happening. The responsibility is that of the IT administrator who locks down the network to prevent the installation of rogue software.

Congress suffered another embarrassing P2P breach after confidential data was leaked from a House Ethics Committee investigation in regards to 30 House members whose conduct and activities allegedly are being reviewed. Information was also leaked on a U.S. Secret Service detail for the First Family via P2P.

House leaders ordered an “immediate and comprehensive assessment” of congressional cybersecurity policies.

These have to be some of the numbest people on the planet. Although someone smart stepped up to the plate stating “Individual error and sloppiness is always the Trojan horse of cybersecurity,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, chairman of the ethics committee.

Peer to peer file sharing allows Internet users to access other P2P users PCs and share files such as music, movies, software, games, and documents. Unfortunately many people don’t set up P2P programs correctly and they end up sharing their most important files including bank records, tax files, health records, and passwords. This is the same P2P software that allows users to download pirated music, movies and software.

This can result in data breaches, credit card fraud and identity theft. I’ve seen numerous reports of government agencies, drug companies, mortgage brokers and others discovering P2P software on their networks after personal data was leaked.

Savvy users lock down P2P to prevent someone else from tooling around with thier settings. If your IT abilities are scant then:

  • Don’t install P2P software on your computer.
  • If you aren’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 “All Programs Menu” will show nearly every program on your computer. If you find an unfamiliar program, do an online search to see what it is you’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 don’t share your hard drive’s data. When you install and configure the software, don’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.
  • And invest in Intelius identity theft protection. 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, discusses P2P hacks on Fox Boston.

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