Can Your Computer Be Hurt By Streaming
Streaming allows you to play audio and video files as they are sent to your computer, as opposed to downloading files and playing them later. Streaming is usually used to prevent Web surfers from saving or copying these files.
Audio and video files themselves are not dangerous. They’re merely pieces of data that can be read by programs. Unfortunately, most programs contain unintended flaws or security loopholes. It’s those flaws that can become harmful.
So, yes, streaming can be harmful, but the potential dangers are not inherent to just streaming. They’re the same threats we face each day when we read email and browse websites.
One fairly recent example of a problem with streaming was Microsoft's WMF (Windows Meta File) vulnerability. It permitted hackers to run program code hidden in pictures. This could be done only through defects in Windows and Internet Explorer. The flaws have since been patched through updates from Microsoft.
Another recent case involved Windows Media Player and WMV (Windows Media Video), which is used for streaming. A flaw in Media Player allowed video files to direct people to malicious Web sites under the pretext of downloading a digital rights license.
Keep in mind that these types of flaws also can be exploited by files that arrive via e-mail. Typically, the victim opens an attachment. So, streaming is just one of the many paths to victims' computers. Anti-virus programs and Windows updates should protect you. Using them is probably better than banning streaming altogether.