Sharing files online via bittorrent clients is simple, fast, and effective. However, as with any type of downloading from the internet, there are always risks to be aware of. One of these is the practice known as torrent poisoning. But what is torrent poisoning, and how can you avoid it while safely sharing files online?
How to Avoid Downloading Bad Torrents
First and foremost, you should avoid downloading any illegal content. Not only is pirated content illegal to download, but it can also be the perfect place for people to upload poisoned torrents that can affect your computer.
Also, when you use torrent client software to download files, be careful about the types of files that you open. For example, you should be especially careful with .zip files and .rar files as these could be used to hide malicious files. You may want to run them through your antivirus scanner first to check what is inside them.
Aside from the risk of torrent poisoning, you should also take care to avoid other risks when downloading torrents. One potential threat is posed when you download a file and you are then asked to download other files from somewhere else, which could then contain malware.
You may be asked to sign up for something or to visit another website to get a password, and this should also be avoided because it could be another way to spread malware or to sign up up to an email list that you don’t want to join.
Torrent sites also take measures against poisoned torrents. For example, users on many sites will report poisoned torrents so that they can be removed.
Bad Torrents And Torrent Poisoning
Torrent poisoning is when someone uploads a torrent that contains a corrupted file or a file that is not what it is described as. Someone could upload a poisoned torrent for malicious purposes by using it to send malware. However, some organizations have uploaded poisoned torrents in a bid to counter the sharing of copyrighted content without the authorization of the copyright holder, which is another reason to avoid downloading files that contain material that is copyrighted and where the copyright holder has not authorized free sharing.
What To Look Out For
There are various types of techniques for torrent poisoning. One of these is called ‘spoofing’, which is where the content creator will intentionally use software to direct users to locations that do not exist, making it take longer for them to find the file they want.
Another technique is known as ‘interdiction’, where the servers of the attacker connect repeatedly to the file, thereby flooding the bandwidth of the provider and preventing other users from downloading the file.
‘Content pollution’ is when a corrupted version of the file is inserted into the network and looks the same as the real file. This could be used to spread viruses and malware.
Other known techniques include ‘index poisoning,’ ‘eclipse attacks,’ and ‘uncooperative peer attacks,’ so there are plenty of ways that torrents can be poisoned.
Protect yourself by always having up-to-date antivirus protection installed on your computer, and try to research files before downloading them, starting by reading the comments left by other users for any signs of potential risks.
Share Files in Confidence
Unfortunately, whenever you download anything online there is always a risk involved. If you want to share files using a bittorrent client, keep the above tips in mind and avoid torrent poisoning and the other risks that can cause problems when downloading torrents.
Paula Volpe has always had a keen understanding of internet capabilities. With years of web management under her belt, she often blogs about the basics of online systems available to everyday users.