LimeWire Warning Consumers of Security Risks in Its Software

LimeWireThe makers of the beleaguered LimeWire peer-to-peer software have agreed to notify consumers that using the file-sharing program can expose private information, said Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler.

The Consumer Protection Division of Gansler's office had been investigating LimeWire, alleging that some versions of the software had features that left consumers unknowingly vulnerable to sharing information they might not want to share, including Social Security numbers, tax records, private family documents or family videos.

Under the settlement that ended the probe, the makers of LimeWire software, Lime Group LLC, Lime Wire LLC, and their former owner, Mark Gorton, agreed to notify Maryland consumers that file-sharing software, products and services often contain a risk of inadvertent file sharing."I'm pleased this investigation has produced greater protections for Maryland consumers against a vulnerable point of entry into their home computers," Gansler said in a statement. "When opening your computer to online sharing, you should be as careful as when you're opening your home to strangers. Always protect access to your private or sensitive information from those you don't know or trust."

It's a security breach that's rampant, said the new Center for Copyright Information. The center pointed to 2009 congressional testimony statistics that showed when consumers had disclosed private information through peer-to-peer sharing, hackers had accessed that info in almost 87% of the cases. The nonprofit center is backed by the entertainment industry as well as Internet service providers and aims to educate the public about copyright issues.

In May, the now-defunct LimeWire agreed to pay $105 million to the Recording Industry Association of America in a music piracy lawsuit settlement.

The company has essentially been out of commission since an October 2010 court order that kept it from distributing its software. In a statement on its site, LimeWire urges consumers who have its software to delete it from their computers because "files on your personal computers containing private or sensitive information may have been inadvertently shared."

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