I’ve been getting asked a lot about torrents lately. Are torrents safe to download? I thought I’d write an ethics aside article about torrents. I’m not interested in giving my opinion on the legal side of torrents, and whether I think it is right or wrong. That is for you to decide. I just wanted to write an article that looks strictly at the safety of torrent downloads in relation to malware and the risk of becoming infected.
Torrents have become increasingly filled with malware over the years. Malware writers latch onto the names of popular torrent uploaders, and spread their nasties about. Popular films, games, and porn are obviously huge targets and unsuspecting users looking for a free product are especially vulnerable. Every kind of malware imaginable has been found on torrent sites, and as much as the owners of these sites attempt to keep them clean it is a huge utterly impossible task. People continually ask, are torrents safe?
One particular risk, malware aside, is that you could have your IP traced, if perhaps authorities have placed ‘bait’ torrents on sites. I’m not sure quite how often this happens, but I have read about it, and heard of recorded incidents. I suspect this could begin to happen more in the near future.
I’ve heard that malware writers can generally assume that torrent users have a lower regard for computer security, this may or may not be true. Of course, I suspect majority of torrent users are a little more tech savvy than that, and are somewhat aware of their computers security.
Bottom line, are torrents safe? I would certainly say NO they’re not, and you’re at a far greater risk for downloading malware there than anywhere else… often the more nasty kinds too, such as keyloggers.
How can I stay safe on torrent sites?
Pretty much the most sure fire method is to pay attention to comments. If a torrent has no comments, simply stay away. Torrents that have been there awhile will have some user feedback, at least mentioning whether it worked, whether it was as described, or whether malware was found in it. These comments can be pretty reliable, as you can be sure only experienced users seem to spend time commenting. For more detailed tips check out my five tips to stay safe on a torrent site.
Some other articles of interest on this topic:
Bogus “New Moon” Torrents lead to malware
Torrents flooded with Malware? on SEO Satellite
Torrent Spam report fake and malware ridden torrents on Torrent Freak