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Cable/Video

P2P PEBKAC

5:35 PM -- Pity poor Mark Gorton.

In yesterday's House Oversight Committee hearing on inadvertent file sharing, LimeWire LLC 's CEO got lambasted by lawmakers, some of whom generously described themselves as "not very computer savvy."

At issue is the tiny matter of national security, which some experts say is being compromised due to classified information being leaked over P2P file-sharing networks.

When Wesley Clark steps away from whatever he's doing nowadays to describe how one government contractor made more than 500 documents related to the Pentagon's super-secret and super-secure private network available to anyone with a Lime Wire account, one tends to stop and take notice.

And regardless of what one thinks about Gorton himself or the fact that most people use Lime Wire to illegally download music, it's certainly a humbling thought that detailed national security information is making its way onto public networks.

The problem is how -- and why -- it's getting there, which is why I'm in a pitying mood towards Mr. Gorton right now. Because it seems to me that his application did nothing wrong. It merely did what it was designed to do, which is to transmit files freely and effectively.

In my years of using P2P file sharing programs, I don't think I ever once shared a file or a directory I didn't mean to share.

Which raises the question: If I, an average PC user with minimal network security background, can avoid having my identity revealed to the world while downloading old videos of the Family Guy, how on God's Green Earth (GGE) can a government contractor hired to keep tabs on one of the most secure and complex networks in the world drop the ball and share a directory chock full of instructions on how best to hack that network?

It's what some might refer to as a PEBKAC or ID-Ten-T error.

P2P file sharing might have some really amazing uses, and some that are a bit nefarious. But it's not a threat to national security unless some really stupid people do some really stupid things, at least in my not-so-humble opinion.

— Ryan Lawler, P2P Proselytizer, Light Reading

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