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Free software

Downloading free software off the Internet is much like kissing the boy or girl that everyone else kisses: You are likely to catch something. One of the particular free software programs out there, KAZAA, is very sophisticated and is one of the little peer-to-peer networks that sprung up after the demise of NAPSTER. It does not use a central directory to link users, rather it uses the processing power of each individual computer. By and through this network and the connection to the internet it can and does automatically upgrade the software sitting on most of the PC’s where it is resident. But beneath KAZAA there is a stealth network called ALTNET, and it can take control of the computers where the KAZAA software is resident remotely.

ALTNET was secretly embedded in the KAZAA software, and it was created by the same Dutch programmers that programmed KAZAA but is now owned by aLos Angeles firm called Brilliant Digital Entertainment. ALTNET is a parallel peer-to-peer network that takes advantage of unused capacity, bandwidth and processing of the millions of computers on which it is resident, linked via the KAZAA network. ALTNET plans to resell the surplus resources of those computers where ALNET is resident to power distributed computing applications, such as ad-serving or content-caching.

Thus, it is possible that malicious individuals could very easily hijack the KAZAA linked computers through the ALTNET network and launch a sustained and massive coordinated attack on anyone or everyone.

So, now as a network administrator, many units on your network are donating excess computer cycle time and you can’t figure out why. It may be because some of your users didn’t let you know that they downloaded the KAZAA software so that they could illegally copy and distribute music. Last we heard the owner of this software mess is some type of entity has been formed in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, a nation that is still on a financial center black list promulgated by the Financial Action Task Force and the OECD. So, even if you can find them, it is unlikely that you will be able to sue them or even recover anything from them if you do. It underscores “don’t allow anyone to download or install software unless you pre-approve it!”

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