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United States Antarctic Program Blocks P2P File Sharing Applications

According to a blog post, employees of the United States Antarctic Program (USAP) have been devoid of running peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing applications such as KaZaa, Limewire and BitTorrent, as reported by sophos on August 18, 2009.

IT team of USAP has given valid reasons for prohibiting the use of these file sharing programs. They argue that workers in Antarcitica may swamp the expensive and limited bandwidth of the organization with multimedia downloads that may allow hackers to sneak in their malware.

Dennis L Gitt, Director of Information Technology and Communications, USAP, said in a notification that P2P programs could overwhelm the Internet connections and flooded malicious codes and traffic on the network, as reported by sophos on August 18, 2009.

To strongly put his view, Mr. Gitt has given a recent example in which information of Michelle Obama's safehouse was accidentally leaked through a file sharing network.

Another example that Gitt gave to prove his point was - USAP employees imagined a bizarre scenario when a participant in Antarctica wanted to have a copy of new game. The participant decided to install a copy of the game from Morpheus, which had already been uploaded by another user on the Internet as a ZIP file.

As the participant clicks on the ZIP file (a small bandwidth has been used in downloading the file) and executes the Setup.exe program to download the game, the .exe file doesn't run a routine setup. On the other hand, a computer virus sneaks into the network and propagates itself to infect linked computers. Although the virus may install the desired game, it secretly inserts a software that records keystrokes.

Expressing his views on the prohibition of accessing P2P file sharing programs, Graham Cluley, Senior Technology Consultant, Sophos, said that undoubtedly, the risk of information leakage from the USAP base was there if the file-sharing programs were not carefully executed. In fact, a Sophos survey reveals that 86.5% of system administrators expressed desire of blocking P2P applications on their network and 79% of them considered blocking the application essential, as reported by Sophos on August 19, 2009.

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