Peer 2 Peer

Submitted

Posted on Thursday, August 24, 2017


What are Peer to Peer applications? In a general sense, Peer to Peers allow two or more users to share information over a network in real time by connecting servers. The Internet itself is an example of the first generation Peer to Peer. Its entire operation is based on interconnected servers passing information from node to node until the desired information is transferred from host computer to the user who initially input a search command.

But today’s Peer to Peers work somewhat differently. Rather than server talking to server, these applications make use of the vast resources on the fringe of the Internet. That is, they allow your Personal Computer (PC) to interact directly with another PC anywhere in the world. Well, not directly. Like the Internet, the information travels through an unlimited number of nodes along the way. Are you starting to see a problem?

Pros and Cons of Peer to Peer. Without question, Peer to Peer is a quick and easy way to get information from one point to another across a network. But they have several serious downsides. Besides being extremely public, Peer to Peer often requires enormous bandwidth. Even more problematic is the fact that they create security risks and often facilitate illegal activity online.

For publicly accessible Peer to Peer, the risks far outweigh the benefits. The following paragraphs describe the three main types of Peer to Peer applications-file sharing, instant messaging and distributed processing-and talk about the inherent problems of each.

Types of Peer to Peer - and their shortcomings. KAZAA and Gnutella are perfect examples of file sharing Peer to Peer. Although they work somewhat differently, both allow users to download music files via the Internet. In the process, each participant becomes a node in the network: each PC stores music files that can be accessed by other users. Of course, file-sharing programs can also be used to exchange text, graphics, and video.

But this Inter-connected file transfer system creates two big problems. Firstly, many of the files are enormously big, which means transferring them requires huge amounts of bandwidth. On a networked system, that can lead to slowdowns across an entire organization.

But security is an even bigger issue. As described earlier, today’s Peer to Peer effectively turn individual PCs into interactive servers. Unfortunately, they do so on the wrong side of system security measures such as anti-virus shields and firewalls. To further complicate matters, there is really no way to restrict file sharing to a specific file type, such as an mpeg music file. It’s very difficult to keep another KAZAA participant who comes to your system looking for a song from snatching a few other files on the side-even ‘.exe’ or ‘.ini’ files may be open to exploitation. Alternately, a user could use the guise of a music file to drop malicious code, such as a virus, worm or Trojan horse, into your system.

Peer to Peer instant messaging systems (often referred to as ‘ICQs’, an informal acronym for the phrase ‘I seek you’) usually consume less bandwidth, although they can be equally selfish when users opt to exchange files during an on-line conversation. In addition to leaving a system open to the security risks described above, ICQs create a personal level of risk. It’s quite easy for electronic eavesdroppers to listen in to your online dialogues-and to print a hard copy of your exchange. That could be embarrassing or incriminating, for you and for DND. The best rule of thumb to follow is to avoid saying anything online that you wouldn’t say face-to-face.

SETI is a perfect example of distributed processing, programs that draw up unused cycles on idle PCs to help analyze massive amounts of data. Most distributed processing programs are used for legitimate purposes, yet they come with their own set of problems. Participants are typically required to download software, which may or may not be well designed and may or may not be compatible with other programs on their system.