So, you've made it this far in life without asking yourself what the mesh is and how you're able to get access to so much information at your fingertips. Don't worry! Most people never work up an inclination to understand everything. You're ahead of the curve.
What the mesh is not: The mesh is not a server-based network. Every device connected to your planetary mesh is a node in the mesh. Processing power is grabbed from whatever free devices are connected and have cycles. It's likely that there are corporations providing this service near you for free, because they use the mesh too. All mesh-enabled devices power-share this way. Don't worry! Your data is safe.
How does this whole thing work? When you get on the mesh, you are instantaneously connected to a global commsat network on your planet. Every other mesh-enabled machine is also connected to it. You can navigate to any one of these nodes in the mesh, and request files from them if they have that option configured. Some may want your credit information in return, and may charge you for their services. That's fine! Everything costs something on the mesh, even data access. If you don't have a subscription to a service, you can almost always use one with a one-time fee.
What stops pirates? Security nodes and sniffers.
Well, what's a security node? You said there were no central servers. There aren't! But there are ASC security nodes embedded in the mesh. When someone registers data or software with the ASC Information and Communications Office (ICO), this information is entered into every security node. Security nodes routinely check clients that are mesh-enabled to make certain they have up to date user access codes and other such authenticating marks. If they don't, they are isolated from the mesh by a mesh-wide emergency signal targeting their BIOS.
What are some programs available through the mesh? Download services cost more in different locations. Obviously, on Earth, downloads are the most expensive. They cost J$1 per GB. Here are some programs you might be able to grab on Earth:
ThreatAssess (versions: 9, Pro). ThreatAssess is a corporate identification program that trains on home or corporate hardware (cameras, heat sensors, barometric pressure) to identify what a "normal" work day looks like. If ThreatAssess detects "abnormal" activity, it pings the sysadmin and can be configured to engage a lockdown. ThreatAssess Pro is loaded with criminal databases, weapons signatures, and links to license databases for firearms. 30 gigs Cost: TA9--J$300/fiscal year, Complexity 3; TAPRO--J$3,000/fiscal year, Complexity 4.
Intelligent Security Modeling Imager. This intelsec software can build a simulated computer model almost instantaneously from any live camera feed. Multiple angles improves modeling. Mostly used by the military. 35 gigs. Cost: J$1,000/fiscal year, complexity 5.
Connecting to Meshes of Other Planets: This is a difficult proposition, most commonly remedied by acquiring rental of a Q-antennae on your nearest Orbital Router. These antennae cost around J$1,000/minute for use, but allow realtime access to other meshes. Any other attempts at access can take several minutes to several hours for light-based transfer of a single TB of data.