Downloading music could cost you your identity. Back in 2007, All Consuming reported about a Seattle man who used software designed to swap music to instead search for sensitive documents on others' computers. That guy, Gregory Kopiloff, was sentenced last year to four years in prison. Now prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney's Office say a buddy of his, Seattle resident Frederick Eugene Wood, pulled a similar stunt.
Wood, 34, is charged with wire fraud, identity theft and computer fraud. He's accused of using the peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing program LimeWire to steal personal info. LimeWire and similar peer-to-peer file sharing programs enable users to share music and videos. Wood allegedly targeted parents whose children had installed the software on a family PC. He reportedly used the stolen info to forge checks that he used to buy pricey electronics he then sold on Craigslist.
Officials say Wood became a suspect after he allegedly tried to scam a Craigslist buyer. According to a news release, Wood met the buyer and sold him an Apple computer. But when the buyer returned home, he opened the box to find a book and a vase.
Parents, talk to your kids about downloads. They may not understand risks involved with file sharing: lawsuits if you violate copyright laws, security problems and unwanted viruses or porn.
If you decide to use these programs, here are some safety precautions:
Set up the software carefully. If you do not check the settings during installation, you might permit access to all your documents including tax returns or financial reports.
Watch for spyware. Some file-sharing programs may install software that monitors your browsing habits and can relay or collect personal information from your machine.
Close and end your connection when you are finished.
Use and update your anti-virus and anti-spyware software regularly.
Be choosy about what your download. Avoid files with extensions like .exe, .scr, .lnk, .bat, .vbs, .dll, .bin, and .cmd.
Find more Internet safety tips on our Web Wise Washington pages.