Sunday, January 20, 2008

Peer to Peer Communication

What's P2P?
On the Internet, peer-to-peer (referred to as P2P) is a type of transient Internet network that allows a group of computer users with the same networking program to connect with each other and directly access files from one another's hard drives. Napster and Gnutella are examples of this kind of peer-to-peer software. Major producers of content, including record companies, have shown their concern about what they consider illegal sharing of copyrighted content by suing some P2P users.

Peer-to-peer Architecture
Peer-to-peer architecture is a type of network in which each workstation has equivalent capabilities and responsibilities. This differs from client/server architectures where some computers are dedicated to serving the others. Peer-to-peer networks are generally simpler but they usually do not offer the same performance under heavy loads. The P2P network itself relies on computing power at the ends of a connection rather than from within the network itself.

P2P is often mistakenly used as a term to describe one user linking with another user to transfer information and files through the use of a common P2P client to download MP3s, videos, images, games and other software. This, however, is only one type of P2P networking. Generally, P2P networks are used for sharing files, but a P2P network can also mean Grid Computing or Instant messaging.

Types of P2P Networks
Peer-to-peer networks come in three flavors. The category classification is based on the network and application.

Collaborative Computing
Also referred to as distributed computing, it combines the idle or unused CPU processing power and/or free disk space of many computers in the network. Collaborative computing is most popular with science and biotech organizations where intense computer processing is required.
Instant Messaging
One very common form of P2P networking is Instant Messaging (IM) where software applications, such as MSN Messenger or AOL Instant Messenger, for example, allow users to chat via text messages in real-time.
Affinity Communities
Affinity communities is the group of P2P networks that is based around file-sharing and became widely known and talked about due to the public legal issues surrounding the direct file sharing group, Napster. Affinity Communities are based on users collaborating and searching other user's computers for information and files.

How Peer-to-peer File-sharing Clients Work?
Once you have downloaded and installed a P2P client, if you are connected to the Internet you can launch the utility and you are then logged into a central indexing server. This central server indexes all users who are currently online connected to the server. This server does not host any files for downloading. The P2P client will contain an area where you can search for a specific file. The utility queries the index server to find other connected users with the file you are looking for. When a match is found the central server will tell you where to find the requested file. You can then choose a result from the search query and your utility when then attempt to establish a connection with the computer hosting the file you have requested. If a successful connection is made, you will begin downloading the file. Once the file download is complete the connection will be broken.

P2P Security Concerns
Copyright Infringement
Shared Folders
Adult Content
Content Filtering
Default Closing Behavior
Default StartUp Behavior
Know about Peer 2 Peer risks and how to use safely

P2P at Work
P2P is not only popular with home users but many small business have come to rely on this cost-effective solution for sharing files with co-workers and clients. P2P promotes the ease of working together when you're not physically located in the same office. In just seconds updated files and data can be shared with peers and confidential files can be blocked for security. Additionally, companies can also block access to Internet music and video files to assist in maintaining a work-oriented P2P network. Not only does this keep the company free and clear from legal issues regarding music downloading and sharing but it also keeps the corporate bandwidth usage down.

P2P Software
Here are some peer to peer file sharing software.

Ares Galaxy
Kazaa Lite
Scour Exchange

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Peer to Peer Risks

Copyright Infringement Liability
P2P technology makes it possible to share all kinds of information. Some information is protected by copyright, which means that you generally need the copyright owner's permission before you make it available to other P2P users. Popular music, movies, games, and software are often protected by copyright.

Copyright infringement can result in significant monetary damages, fines and even criminal penalties. Some copyright owners have filed civil lawsuits against individuals that they believe unlawfully distributed large numbers of copyrighted songs.

Data Security
P2P software programs let users share information with other users around the globe. They allow users to view the contents of each others' "shared folders." If you have personal information in your shared folder, anyone else using the same P2P software has access to it. Another user could use that information to commit identity theft, or to embarrass you.
Please pay attention to the files that you place in, or download to, your shared folder. Don't put information in your shared folder that you aren't comfortable sharing with strangers.

In particular, do not put tax, medical, banking, correspondence or any other sensitive personal files in the same folder as files that are shared via your P2P software program.

Unwanted Exposure to Pornography
P2P software may give users, including children, access to pornography. Some files containing pornography may be deliberately mislabeled to attract young or otherwise unsuspecting viewers. Distributing illegal pornography is a serious crime. Users whose shared folders contain illegal pornographic material, particularly child pornography, could be subject to criminal prosecution.

Files downloaded from the Internet using applications such as Ares P2P may contain spyware that can track your online activity or control your computer. These files will typically be disguised and be undetected by average computer users. Ares P2P is a free opensource project and doesn't include any bundled spyware or adware.

Files downloaded from the Internet using applications such as Ares P2P may carry computer trojans, worms, or viruses that can potentially damage your computer or cause other harms. These files will typically be mislabeled to disguise their true purpose. .