Every year, hundreds of new movies are released. You must go to the cinema if you want to watch them all. Then there’s the popcorn, drinks, and paying for gas. That’s a lot of money and time.
It’s much easier and cheaper to visit a torrent site, download the movie in full HD, and watch it at home. The same is true for TV shows or video games. You get to enjoy the product for free, right?
Ethical issues aside, torrents have a hidden cost, and it comes in the form of malware. Most torrents come with Trojan viruses that track all your device’s information. They can look through your webcam, steal your passwords, install ransomware, mine crypto, and even steal money from your bank account.
Torrents can also turn your device into a digital zombie. That’s what happens when it becomes part of a botnet army that launches DDoS cyberattacks. Read on to learn how torrenting works and why it’s so dangerous.
How Does Torrenting Work?
Torrenting is a way of downloading files. Most of us are familiar with the traditional process. You connect to one server, click download, and wait.
Torrenting allows you to download bits and pieces from a file from multiple sources, all at the same time. It makes it quicker and enables servers to store more data. It’s because a peer-to-peer network supports the process.
Every peer-to-peer network user can have two functions. They can be a client and download files and a server where they upload files. The more people join in, the more collaborative the process becomes.
Torrents have information about the trackers – the people with parts of the file you want to download. Once you connect to one tracker, you get a list of the others and start downloading the file. This process makes you part of a swarm, and based on your relationship with a file, you can be a leech or a seed. Leeching means you’re downloading. Seeding means you’ve got the entire file and share it with others.
A magnet link is another way of torrenting. Instead of downloading the initial file, you click a link, and it opens a client and starts the download. It makes the process seamless and automatic.
The Dangers of Torrenting
The technology behind torrenting is impressive. It’s based on team effort and collaboration. However, the shared files are often copyrighted or tainted with malware. That’s where the dangers come from.
Many files are not what you think they are. Especially when it comes to cracked games, pirated software, or movies. You download the file, and everything works seamlessly. But an extra file often serves as a Trojan, opening a cybersecurity hole.
When you purposefully download and install malware (often unknowingly), you open the floodgates for cybercrime. Every danger in the book suddenly becomes possible. Hackers can steal your social media accounts and bank details or lock your device and ask for money to unlock it. That’s why you need to be careful.
Next come privacy concerns. Your IP address becomes visible when you join a torrent swarm. Hackers can try to identify you and expose your identity. Or they will use that information to launch attacks on your business.
Then there are legal concerns. Copyright infringement is at the top of the list because you download and use material without buying a license or authorization. Depending on where you’re from, that can lead to prison or fines.
Your internet service providers can always see when you’re torrenting files. If you overstep their boundaries, they can throttle your speed, report you as a copyright infringer, or send warning emails to stop.
Finally, there’s direct legal action. This is rare, but there have been situations where people get a sentence just for torrenting content. Such cases were reported in the United States, so think twice before you start the download.