Peer-to-peer (P2P) network use could make internet surfers vulnerable to identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission cautioned this week.
The networks are popular among gamers and people who share music online.
All internet users should safeguard their personal information against theft, but the need for preventive measures may be particularly acute among users of P2P services like LimeWire and BitTorrent. Configuring P2P software properly is an essential step in reducing the risk of identity theft, FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz said.
Those who use P2P programs "should take a hard look at their systems to ensure that there are no unauthorized … programs and that authorized programs are properly configured and secure," he added.
Another important component of online security is proper configuration of security software like antivirus, antispyware and firewall programs. Many reputable security programs are available for free, computer experts say.
According to the FTC, identity theft was the number one consumer complaint last year - the tenth consecutive year for which that was the case.
And, said Jim Barone, senior vice president of legal insurance provider ARAG, "the sun never sets on fraudsters."