Downloading A Torrent Of Trouble

Wrongly or rightly, a large proportion of the internet community regularly downloads content. This can range from documents to films, games to mp3’s, and a whole host of different applications.

Download sites, especially those that operate on a peer-to-peer basis, have often been plagued with files infected with spyware, adware, viruses and other malware. One of the more popular means of downloading larger files, BitTorrent, has traditionally avoided these problems more than others such as Limewire and Kazaa. Recently, however, things have changed.

As the popularity of Bram Cohen’s BitTorrent application, and the download of torrents themselves, has increased, people have seen opportunities for making money off the back of something that was designed to provide an effective means for businesses to transfer large files.

downloading-torrents

THE DANGERS OF DOWNLOADING TORRENTS

With the sheer volume of data being transferred around the net by sharers of torrents, those behind viruses and spyware have seen the potential for getting their damaging scripts onto a large number of systems in a short period of time. After this, the compromised systems then become corrupted, turned into spam bots or are accessed in phishing attempts, according to the programmer’s intentions.

Another growth area within torrent files is that of adware and other malware. Many people who download torrent files have subsequently found their systems infected with an applications called nail.exe, or aurora.exe. Both of those are extremely irritating and annoying examples of adware.

HOW DO SYSTEMS BECOME INFECTED?

The main reason why systems become infected with adware, spyware and viruses in the first place is a lack of security measures being employed. There are an alarmingly large number of people online who do not run any kind of firewall or anti-virus whatsoever. There may also be a large number of people downloading torrents who are not aware of the dangers either.

Even those who do have some knowledge of computer security may be at risk of downloading malicious applications. This is because it is impossible to verify and check torrent files at source – they are downloaded in pieces and the code, malicious or otherwise, is not complete until the files(s) are reassembled on the user’s machine after the file has completely downloaded.

With file sharing services often limited in the types of advertising they can attract, they often partner with sites and services that the average user may find less than tasteful. This may explain why some partner with services such as hotbar who provide a toolbar add-on which includes advertising.

PREVENTION

Obviously, the most effective means of avoiding malicious files that are transferred and often installed secretly via downloaded torrents, is to simply not download torrent files in the first place. If that is not an option then you should consider a good antivirus program a necessity.

It is also advisable to run some sort of adware detection, such as the free Ad-Aware 2009, on a regular basis too so that it can be identified and removed from your system promptly.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

Comments

  1. M P Keshava says:

    There is also an added danger. While you are downloading, you are also uploading. So, an officer of Indian army was charged with uploading child pornography while he was only downloadng using bittorrent!

  2. A
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    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Just Kidding, Congrats Aruna!!!

  3. Awwww… thanks Aruna 😳

  4. Well spotted!

    I hadn’t even noticed that you had made 100 😳

    C
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    Now, if you could oonly think of something I could do to celebrate you making 100 comments in a single month…

  5. erm… um… hmmmm…

  6. I don’t believe you 😛

  7. Ive seen your picture and would have to agree – those warts really let you down.

    :mrgreen: 😈

  8. Bad habits?

    I thought women were meant to be perfect!

    😕

  9. I will make it special by saying I had the most enjoyable time knowing you through your website. 😛

  10. Too bad I just saw my 100th comment was in fact the meanest one.

  11. and why not?

  12. you devil you…i could kill you 👿

  13. I am a woman and I am not perfect. It is embarrassing but better to admit than be a hypocrite.

  14. Thank you!I wish I had seen this earlier!But then bad habits die hard…just kidding!

Trackbacks

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