Torrent websites are very convenient because they allow users to find and download files from the web. But they are not without their risks. During the last several years, we have seen many instances of malware infecting users who are just looking for torrents on these websites.
We’ve all seen torrent sites with annoying pop-ups. You might be surprised to discover that such pop-ups might cause more than a simple annoyance.
So, today we will see how bad the situation is and how to avoid it.
What is a Torrent Site?
A torrent site is a website that hosts .torrent files, which are small files that contain information about the files you’re about to download. Its primary purpose is to make it easy to find and download several pieces that many different people host.
Because of some confusion among users, it’s important to mention that this kind of site is different from a torrent search engine. The latter does not host files; it only shows you torrent sites that contain the file you want.
Why do torrent sites infect you?
As you may already be guessing, it’s mainly because of money. These dishonest advertisers collect user information and sell it on the dark web for dozens of dollars, for each user profile. According to a study by the Digital Citizens Alliance and RiskIQ, this activity generates an annual profit of 70 million dollars.
Based on the same study, an estimated 12 million users are infected every month through torrent sites alone.
How do they do it?
The most common way is by injecting malicious scripts into your web browser, through ads! Some of these pop-ups are actually easy to spot because they are fake and useless. Many of them promise free downloads or even offer coupons for discounts, but if you click on the ad, nothing happens.
Are website owners in it too?
That’s a tricky question, and we cannot accuse them without evidence. We know that malicious marketing agencies often operate without the knowledge of site owners.
When a site owner or moderator approves ads, it’s not always possible to control what is displayed on their websites. That’s up to the marketing agency. This allows them to spread malware and harvest user profiles without being noticed.
However, the fact that their torrent sites are stuffed with ads and pop-ups should be a red flag for the owners. And that raises the question: “Don’t they suspect about anything?”. We wouldn’t be surprised if a site owner were trying to earn some extra money by playing along with this tactic.
Which torrent sites are safe?
The study we mentioned earlier analyzed 800 torrent sites and found malware on a third of them. Those numbers are pretty high, meaning that even some well-known sites are not safe.
It’s always safer to use the most popular sites. And remember that while it’s good to avoid websites with a ton of advertisement, it’s not always a reliable way of identifying unsafe sites. For example, rarbg has some pop-ups, but it’s still one of our favorite torrent sites.
How to be safe on a torrent website?
There are a few things you can do to be safe while using torrent sites.
Install an Adblocker in your browser
An Adblocker’s job is precisely to avoid pop-Ups and ads. If your VPN doesn’t have an ad blocker, you can use a regular one.
There are numerous good options available, such as uBlock Origin and Adblock Plus.
Get a VPN
Besides the main job of protecting your identity when you download a torrent file, a VPN can also help you while browsing a torrent website.
The VPN will keep your identity secret from torrent sites and their administrators. The most important part is that it hides your IP address from agencies that use these sites to display fake ads containing malware.
Furthermore, some VPNs come with a built-in adblocker that can prevent malicious scripts, such as pop-ups, from running in your browser.
We recommend NordVPN. It’s fast, cheap, simple, and it has a good adblocker.
Use a good antivirus
Make sure you have a decent antivirus when looking for torrents. A good antivirus program can help keep you safe from malware and other threats hidden in ads, such as viruses and spyware.
Keep in mind that it all starts with the website
For most users, the torrent download is the essential part, and it’s perfectly understandable why they think like that. After all, the torrent is what they want, and downloading it is their top priority.
But you should realize that the torrent website is also a part of the torrenting process. You should see it as the first step of torrenting. Just think about it; without the website, you wouldn’t find your torrent file, and you couldn’t start the download.
If you have that in mind, you will remember to protect yourself before browsing on a torrent website, not just when you start the torrent download. Therefore, you should turn on your VPN and other protection tools before visiting a torrent site.
As you can see, some torrent websites are not as safe as you thought. They often contain malware that can infect your device. Unfortunately, it’s a very profitable business for those behind it, and that means it’s not going to stop anytime soon.
Some of the techniques used are even hard to detect, so make sure you follow our tips to increase your safety when browsing torrents.