File-sharing is a controversial topic that created a huge grey area of uncertainty. We do know that torrent trackers are under monitoring by ISPs and copyright agencies. But things are not so simple when it comes to torrent webpages, the actual place where you find those files you want.
Users are turning to Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and proxies to download torrents with anonymity. The problem is that many users don’t seem to realize that torrenting goes beyond a BitTorrent client.
Browsing Torrents Reveals Your Intentions
Let’s start with the basic: looking for files on a torrent page is not illegal. No one can do anything to you just because you are visiting such websites.
But, obviously, if you’re there, it shows what you will probably do next. You are giving clues of what you’re about to do. Even if your BitTorrent activity is protected with additional software, the action of browsing torrents may be giving you away.
Some Protection Measures Aren’t Enough
And that’s the reason why some anonymity tools may not offer enough protection. For example, a proxy server, one of the most popular tools to hide the IP address when torrenting, will only work on one application. That means that you would use the proxy with your BitTorrent client, and everything else would be unprotected. In other words, your torrent download would be secured, but your browsing wouldn’t.
On that scenario, anyone tracking you on torrent sites would not see the torrent download itself. But it would be easy for them to connect the dots.
For example, your ISP sees your online activity on a webpage of a torrent with a size of 4.27 Gigabytes. Right after that, they see a download of 4.27 GBs. Remember that they cannot see the torrenting activity if you are using a proxy, but they know the amount of data downloaded. It would be quite obvious for your ISP that you downloaded that file.
If Your ISP Knows…
Quite some Internet Service Providers are cooperating with governments. There are new laws in some countries that force ISPs to handle user info and activity. Other ISPs even sell their customer’s online history to all type of agencies, from marketing companies to copyright studios. And many do that even when they are not required to.
Our point is that if your ISP knows you are torrenting, there are good chances that others have access to that information too.
There Are More Dangers Beyond Monitoring
Even if we exclude the monitoring factor, there are other reasons why a torrent site may not be very safe.
Ads, Tracking Scripts and Malware
One thing that is common on most torrent pages is advertisement. It’s generally in the form of annoying popups or flashy banners ads. And, in some sites, there are way too much much rotational ads, controlled by the marketing agencies. These type of agencies are famous for their tracking scripts. That way, they can find out about user preferences and show more relevant ads.
In the end, moderators of the websites don’t control and approve all the ads. The result is that some ads are packed with malware and spyware, compromising the torrent user who was browsing the website.
Bad Browser Settings
The fact that some browsers come with bad default configuration for privacy doesn’t help. Some browsers are like an open gate for all kinds of intruders and malware. It’s very important that you tweak your browser security settings to increase your safety.
Being Safe in Torrent Websites
It’s of extreme importance that users realize that torrenting and P2P involves the entire process, and not only the download itself. It starts from the moment you think about a new file to download.
At the moment, a VPN is the safest way for both the download of the file and also browsing torrent sites. Unlike other tools, the Virtual Private Network encrypts the entire connection and all active applications. This means that your online history will also be hidden. No one but yourself will have knowledge of the pages you visited.
Interestingly, modern VPNs have browser extensions that help to block ads and tracking codes. By integrating such extensions into your browser, you will be able to avoid malware present in many torrent websites.
Visiting torrent archive pages is not as safe as it may seem. Sure, it’s not illegal just to be there, but it says a lot about your activity.
To be safe, it’s always better to be completely protected with the help of the right tool. And a VPN is, by far, the best choice. It will take care of hiding all your online activity, including browsing and download data. And, if you choose well, a VPN will also provide an extension that will help you avoid malware in those pages.
If you combine that with a few browser modifications, you will have greatly increased your security. In the end, you will have a much better torrenting experience.