What Types Of Malware Can Be Transported Through P2P File Sharing?

What Types Of Malware Can Be Transported Through P2P File Sharing?

What Types Of Malware Can Be Transported Through P2P File Sharing?

Peer to peer file sharing is a form of electronic data sharing in which users can directly share content.  A common type of p2p file sharing is BitTorrent, but others exist.

Types Of Malware Shared Through P2P Sharing

Malicious software that has been shared in P2P file sharing includes:


A computer virus is a piece of malware that, when executed, replicates itself by modifying other programs and inserting its code.

Viruses written for peer-to-peer file sharing will spread from an infected user to any other users with whom they have shared files.  They can also be spread from one P2P network to another when a file is shared with users on both networks.


Spyware typically gets installed onto a computer without the knowledge of the user, and may gather private information such as passwords, surfing habits, banking information, or other personal data; it then sends this information to the creator of the spyware to be used against the user.


A rootkit is a type of malware that seeks to conceal its presence on an infected computer by subverting standard operating system functions.   Rootkits can therefore interfere with antivirus software running on the same machine, as well as tools used to detect and eliminate them.


A computer worm is a special type of virus that does not need to attach itself to any other files, but can spread throughout networks while remaining on the infected system.  It spreads by using known vulnerabilities and weak passwords and is often difficult to detect because it cannot be activated without user input.


Unauthorized distribution of malware, especially viruses, is often referred to colloquially as “spam”, due to the similarity to the proliferation of unwanted emails.  Email spam has dramatically decreased with improved email filters and greater awareness among users, but file-sharing networks are still frequently used for this purpose.

Usage of P2P File Sharing

P2P file sharing, or “file-sharing networks,” are used for both legitimate and illegal purposes.   Legitimate uses include allowing individuals with similar interests to exchange public domain video, audio, scientific data, software, and documents over the Internet. 

Unauthorized copying of copyrighted material is done using file-sharing networks as well. A person may be distributing child pornography if they possess hundreds or thousands of videos that contain images of sexual acts involving children on their computer without having an explicit need to see or possess them.

Additionally, copyrighted music files are commonly available for download on file-sharing networks, and removal of the copy protection on commercial DVDs allows them to be copied onto computers where they can be easily distributed. Unauthorized copying of software is also a concern; some programs offer advertised features that do not exist.  

How Malware Usually Remits In P2P Sharing

Users dissatisfied with their purchase may remove or circumvent the copy protection to make an unauthorized backup or use an unrestricted version on another computer.

Malware creators have used file-sharing networks to both advertise their malware and spread it among compromised computers;

one particularly effective method sends emails containing links that file-sharing appear innocuous but redirects browsers to sites hosting exploits (i.e., websites designed for no purpose but to exploit vulnerabilities in computers visiting them).

Prevention Methods From Malware Transmitted In P2P Sharing

Here are some methods you can use to prevent the malware from being transmitted in P2P sharing,

  1. Use the most recent versions of antivirus software.  The number of new viruses is constantly growing, and security companies continually release updates to keep up with them.
  2. Regularly backup current files that are of importance or interest to you, since they may become corrupt or disappear if infected by malware that modifies system data.  
  3. Anti-virus software can both detect and prevent infection, but may not catch every piece of malware out there; it also cannot protect against everything since malware can be specifically designed not to trigger any alerts in some cases.  As such, it is still important for users to take precautions on their own.
  4. Scan all email attachments with antivirus programs before opening them (but be wary of those from unknown senders).  Many viruses are now transmitted through links within email messages.
  5. Avoid opening files from unknown sources unless necessary, as some can install malware without your knowledge or consent.  
  6. Be cautious about downloading “free” software as the installer may contain malware that will then be installed on your computer. Check reviews, ratings, and other information about any program before installing it to make sure it is safe for use.

Removal Of Malware In P2P Sharing

  1. Malware can be removed like any other software program; simply delete it after downloading, or uninstall it if already installed.
  2. It is recommended to use an antivirus program to regularly scan the system for known malware to avoid any chance of reinfection.
  3. Since most malware is designed to conceal itself, it may be difficult to tell if a system is infected.  However, certain symptoms can indicate a possible infection: unusual sounds from the computer’s hard drive decreased performance in games and other applications, unexpected error messages when running software or accessing files on a computer that normally has no issues with them, or sluggish response time.
  4. Spybots will also clean out spyware that may remain on your computer even after you’ve manually removed all known malware files.

After removal, keep all security patches for programs up to date so that new viruses are not downloaded.  Once you are certain that your system is clean, the best practice is to do frequent scans with an antivirus program so that any malware can be found and removed before it has a chance to take effect.


Computer users regularly participate in file-sharing networks to access music and movies. However, the risk of downloading malware through these mediums is often overlooked by both beginners and experts alike. Malware infection from file-sharing services has been shown to not only damage personal data but also only if they are up to date and run a full system scan after the malware has been removed. If the virus cannot be found, another tool (such as Spybot) might be required.

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