How To Torrent Safely
Torrenting is a fast and easy means of downloading files from the internet without making it hard on your bandwidth as opposed to simply downloading files from websites.
It unfortunately has downsides, and it is not always legal either. You need to make sure that you are aware of the risks of torrenting and that you take the steps necessary to keep yourself and your computer system safe.
In the following we’re going through the most common risk factors and some possible solutions.
How to hide your online torrenting activity
When you’re downloading torrent files you become vulnerable to hacking attacks, or your ISP may pry on your activities. For both instances you can become anonymous while doing anything online.
VPNs and proxies are well-known and popular tools to make you invisible for prying eyes.
A virtual private network or VPN is a private channel through which you can access a public network (a website, for example). Your IP address won’t be visible to anyone, instead the VPN server’s IP address will appear.
It is usually recommended to subscribe to a commercial VPN provider because they are obligated to keep your data safe, and most of them don’t keep logs on their customers so authorities can’t access any data of users.
Free VPNs are not so reliable, and many people share the opinion that it is just not worth the risk of using a free VPN.
A proxy or proxy server functions as a gateway between your device and the internet. It can be another computer located anywhere in the world, and just as in the case of the VPN, your IP address will be covered by the proxy’s IP.
Proxies are not so safe as VPNs are, and they can’t come close their level of efficiency either.
Dangers of torrenting
Torrenting comes with all kinds of dangers and risks, and you might want to think twice before just start doing it without preparation. Let’s see what you should be aware of!
Torrent files can carry dangerous malware and you won’t even know it until it’s too late. Malware or viruses can infect your computer system when you download an unchecked torrent file.
The most obvious way to tackle this problem is if you always use an anti-virus scan on your computer. Upon downloading the file it will warn you about the presence of a malicious component of the file.
Once you detected a malicious torrent file, you can do a favor to the torrenting community and report the file to the website where you found it, so they can remove it from their directory.
Torrent websites usually host torrent files of copyrighted materials. It is illegal to obtain copyrighted content without the approval of the copyright holder or without paying for it. Sharing and distributing copyrighted content are also activities that go against the law.
These breaches could lead to lengthy and expensive legal cases, in some countries the punishment is prison sentence for such crimes.
One thing you can do, and we definitely encourage you to do so, is find legal torrent websites that only host and share 100% legal content that is free for you to download. This way you can avoid legal consequences and feeling guilty.
Downloading torrent files via P2P protocol can be dangerous to your sensitive data.
When you download a torrent file to a folder where you keep confidential files and data you put these files at risk, as your torrent file is being seeded from the moment you hit download. It might leak your data that is in the same folder as your torrent.
It is best to keep your confidential or sensitive files in separate, passworded folders, where only you can access them.
Once you go online you’re already a prey of hackers. It is especially true when you download torrent files.
Hackers tend to collect data about a person’s online activity, that includes downloading, uploading, and sharing a file, so they can later use the information to attack their computer and collect even more sensitive data about them.
To avoid this scenario you can use a VPN that hides your real identity (and your computer’s). You can also scan your device for viruses or malware occasionally, and set passwords for your sensitive files and folders.
Streaming vs downloading
For accessing data online, especially when it comes to entertainment, you can either download it or stream it from a website or a streaming service that you pay for. The latter is an absolutely legal means to access copyrighted content because you’re paying for the service, and the service provider is paying royalties to copyright holder, to put it simply.
Downloading torrents is often illegal as we already discussed it above, and it carries other dangers as well.
Streaming content from a website is however a grey zone. You’re not obtaining the file itself, and don’t distribute it further only watch or listen to it, which still counts illegal in a way, but it is not such an obvious breach of copyright laws as downloading.
So to stay on the safe side, streaming is always a better option than downloading.
How to torrent safely: Conclusion
With all the copyright issues and malicious malware that threatens torrenters, it is vitally important to take safety measures seriously. Or find other ways to access files on the Internet.
The choice is yours, and thankfully there is almost nothing in this case that internet can’t help you handle.