This page is thought to inform users about security related questions concerning the installation and usage of Shareaza. We cannot guarantee at all the content of this page being complete or accurate, but we try to keep it as up to date as possible. As this is a Wiki, everyone can contribute or contact us via our forums in case there are inaccuracies on this page.
What security features does Shareaza provide?
Shareaza employs many method of filtering. Shareaza can block files based on the IP address advertising them, based on the content of the filename, and based on the hash of the file. For more information about filters see Security Filter. For help on using the security window see Manual.SecurityWindow.
From version 2.2 Shareaza has a built-in adult filter that can be enabled to stop search result for adult content in various languages. The adult content filter can be found under: Tools > Shareaza Settings > General > Search > Filter Adult Content From Searches.
You can also download additional filters that can be used to hide adult content. Check the Shareaza Forums for filters that you can download and install.
Is the built-in adult filter completely safe?
No, it isn't completely safe. This filter tries to block keywords commonly used on adult content, but it does not guarantee to block all such content. It will fail when the files aren't clearly advertising their true content in the file name. If you are a parent worried about your kid's downloads, understand that it's not difficult to disable or remove such a filter as there is no password protection. Any technically savvy child will know how to remove it.
Is Shareaza safe to use with regard to illegal downloads?
Shareaza itself is 100% legal and if you use it for purposes that abide by the law, you will never have any problem. However, many people use peer to peer software to download or distribute files for which they have no rights to either download or distribute. In almost all countries this is a violation of copyright law or other laws. Shareaza does not encourage any copyright infringement and does not directly offer any kind of protection against getting caught by authorities. It uses no hiding mechanism and no encryption, just nothing! If you choose to break the law, you are entirely on your own. Please, don't ask the Shareaza community for help if your intentions are illegal.
Can I do anything to protect myself from companies such as the RIAA and MPAA?
While we don't recommend sharing anything that would get you in trouble, you can use IP blocklists such as the one for Peer Guardian and convert them to Shareaza format with the converter available at bluetack, and import them into the Shareaza Security window. Blocklists are a useful tool for security, but you should understand that by their nature, blocklists may fail to block malignant parties who are using IP numbers that are not known to the p2p security community, and may block some innocent parties. There are also several blocklists available in the Shareaza Forums that you can download. It is important to understand that they is only provide basic protection. The RIAA and MPAA aren't run by dumb people and it's not difficult at all to catch you if you are sharing pirated content, even if you have filters!
If I don't allow people to browse my files, is it safer?
There is debate about whether or not this is more secure. As long as you are sharing, downloading or uploading files, it is possible for others to determine some of the files you have, regardless of whether you allow browsing. Leaving browsing on does create a more community driven network. If authorities merely 'see' the files in your library via the browsing facility, they can't yet do much against you, they must prove that you're willing to upload them. And they don't need to browse you in order to download from you. But being in possession of a list of all the files you share makes them more credible if they sue you over a shorter list of files they have actually downloaded. So allowing browsing increases your risk and could increase the charges against you.
Can I catch a virus from using Shareaza?
Yes, in theory you can and therefore you should protect yourself, as Shareaza does not directly protect you from downloading a virus. Viruses are most commonly contained in files that pretend to be applications. Since anything can be shared using the protocols Shareaza understands, it is the case that some files on the network contain viruses. Be careful when you download executables and always scan files with a virus scanner or the built-in VirusTotal plugin. A free and easy to use anti-virus program such as AVG is recommended if you don't currently have any antivirus software. You can download a free copy of AVG from Grisoft. Whatever anti-virus software you use, please keep it up to date. Note that the only way to catch a virus with Shareaza is to download it. It is not possible to get infected merely from connecting to the networks. If you catch a virus via Shareaza, then it's always via a file you have downloaded.
If you suddenly discover suspicious files in your library that you're sure you've never downloaded, then it's possible that you've caught a virus. There are viruses that copy themselves into the library, so that other people might download them and get infected as well. In many cases, there will be several of those files in the library, all about the same size and with file names that are tempting to download, often names of software commonly being pirated. You may have not received such a virus from a file you downloaded from Shareaza: some email viruses insert copies of themselves into the shared directories of p2p programs.
Can people break into my computer when I use Shareaza?
Shareaza is believed to be reasonably secured against attacks. In the years that Shareaza has been in use by a large community, no security flaw has been detected. Shareaza only permits people to download the files you specify and will not upload any other file from your computer. It does not let anyone make any changes to your computer or take control of it. Of course the exception to this is when you run malware that you have downloaded, such as a trojan, so you should always scan the files you download with a virus scanner first. Regardless of what program you're using, it's a good idea to stay up to date on Microsoft's 'critical' (security) updates if you're going to be online. Make sure you never share your entire C:\ drive which may contain all your private documents. It is also a good idea to keep up to date with the version of Shareaza you are using.
Does Shareaza keep any hidden record of my activity?
No. However, Shareaza does keep a list of your 100 most recent searches, if you search using the search box on Shareaza's home page. This is to provide a pull-down list of those searches in case you want to rerun or modify them. This list is stored in the Windows registry. There is a button at the bottom of the pull-down list to erase the list. Note that if the registry is backed up (which is sometimes done automatically upon startup), any such list that exists at that time will be included in the backup. Searches made from the search window (rather than the home window) are not stored in this fashion.
If you close Shareaza with searches open, those searches are stored in searches.dat so that they can be restarted later.
Can I make Shareaza not show my IP?
No, you can't hide your IP in Shareaza and that would be of no use anyway. Finding out your IP is a piece of cake and it will be visible in many places, so it really makes no difference at all whether Shareaza shows it or not. Especially, people that really want to find out your IP won't use Shareaza for this purpose, they can use much easier methods.
Is it dangerous that people can know my IP?
This depends on how secured your computer is. Your IP is a piece of information that allows anyone on the internet to make connections to you. However, it is technically impossible to connect to the file-sharing networks without that others can find out your IP. Really, this is in no way avoidable, no matter what some people tell you. If you can't countenance any people knowing your IP, you have no other option than to not use Shareaza at all (and no surfing, no emails, no online games, nothing). However, it is not dangerous for you when other people know your IP, as long as your computer is reasonably secured against attacks from the internet. For this, it's good to have a firewall installed that will not let unwanted connections reach your computer. Most routers are automatically also a firewall, but you might still want to install an additional firewall on the computer.
- The Security page of our Trac Wiki
- Description of the security window inside Shareaza (Shortcut key: [F7])