The costs and complexity of technology can make it tempting to engage in risky behavior. File sharing networks and the variety of free
software available online pose large risks, and not to be used without considerable caution if at all. While most free software works well and
won't make your computer vulnerable to security issues, there is also a lot that adds "features" that you probably don't want and that could
easily damage your computer, your data, or even make you a victim of identity theft.
Don't use file sharing
Peer-to-peer programs are prohibited on systems that contain confidential and sensitive date. Programs like Gnutella, eDonkey, Limewire, and other peer to peer or bittorrent networks allow anyone with an Internet connection to upload
whatever files they'd like. This can include worms and trojans that allow hackers to access infected computers without detection. The file
sharing programs themselves often come bundled with spyware, so even if you don't download anything from the network your computer is
compromised as soon as you install the program.
You also must be sure that any files you share or download are not copyright protected, as specified by federal law and CUMC
Copyright Compliance Requirements. This is very difficult to ascertain when using file sharing networks,
since a work is protected from the moment it is created and does not have to contain a copyright notice to qualify for protection.
Research any programs you install
As mentioned above, there are a number of good free and shareware programs that are available to download from the Internet. Many of
these are safe and do not contain spyware or other malicious programs, but unless you do research to verify this there's no way to tell.
that has been licensed or recommended by Columbia, the Medical Center and CUMC IT does not require research since we have done the work for
If you find other programs that you'd like to install, look for information and ratings from reputable web sites
to verify that it has not caused problems on other computers. If you don't find good information, don't install the program!
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Last updated 12/19/2011