15. December 2009 14:01
There is an excellent web site of Parry Aftab: http://www.aftab.com/ with lots of useful information about online safety for parents and children. One of the online safety aspects is downloads from Internet. The site talk about music downloads from P2P (pier-to-pier) networks and contains useful tips for parents.
But its technical part could be updated with explanations about the most resent picture of P2P technology. First of all, P2P networks are been used not only for distribution of mp3 music files, but mainly for sharing videos and also computer software. The majority of P2P music, video and software content is illegal and violates US and international copyright laws. It includes ripped DVDs and CDs, captured cable and satellite TV broadcasts, cracked programs and games. There is also some legitimate content – for example distribution of free software, such as Linux, but this is just a small drop in big ocean.
The most popular type of P2P network is BitTorrent. According to British Web analysis company CacheLogic, BitTorrent accounts for 35 percent of all the traffic on the Internet. This is more than all other P2P networks combined and much more compare to popular media sharing Web sites such as Youtube or Facebook. The easy of use and abundance of media content (more than Netflix or your local Blockbuster) makes it irresistible for young computer users.
To use BitTorrent, one need to have a client – a program for downloading files from BitTorent. According to Wikipedia, there are 56(!) different BitTorrent clients. To make things even more complicated, there are several free libraries, which allow writing even more. So – if you want to know – is this computer uses BitTorrent by searching for particular software - which one to look for? There are also claims about blocking of BitTorrent. Well, the recent enhancements in BitTorrent protocol, such as traffic encryption, using of DHT (distributed hash table) and random ports makes it very difficult to detect and thus to block.
BlackBox Security Monitor has a feature that guarantees detection of any kind of P2P downloads. This is alerting on excessive network traffic. Turn it on and you will be notified on unusually high amount of data, transferred from outside of your home network.