Sensitive information retrieved from P2P networks

Security researchers Larry Pesce and Mick Douglas demonstrated on Friday – at this year’s ShmooCon security conference in Washington, D.C – the amazing variety of sensitive information that people send out out over peer-to-peer networks, without a thought as to what would happen if such information fell into the wrong hands.

Using search terms such as word, doctor, health, passwd, password, lease, license, passport and visa; file names like password.txt, TaxReturn.pdf, passport.jpg, visa.jpg, license.jpg and signons2.txt; and a myriad of file extensions, they managed to get their hands on tax forms containing complete personal information of the taxpayer, IRS forms with identification numbers on it, driver’s licenses and passports, event schedules (names, hotel room numbers, performance dates and locations), financial retirement plans, and even information about a student that offered to help U.S. forces in Iraq and is currently hiding for fear of torture and death!

The conclusion? Security awareness is still nonexistent among the typical low-level users, and the process of education must be continued for as long as it takes to make everybody aware of the dangers of sharing sensitive and/or personal information through insecure channels.

Network World reports that the two researchers also presented the Cactus Project, whose purpose is to help organizations carry out this kind of research and impose changes to improve security when it comes to file sharing on the Gnutella bases P2P network.

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