When we download torrents, we are not only concerned about download speed but also security and legal issues. Data breaches exposed on news from time to time and oversea students using P2P download tools were often taken away by the police. Let alone the security and legal issues, we all have times when we want to download something secretly. This article is to give you a clear understanding of the risks of downloading torrents and teach you how to secure torrent downloads.
We are under surveillance all the time. Surveillance itself is not a bad thing, because it can better ensure national sovereignty and secure personal life and property. Whether it invades your privacy depends on what the data is used for. If your data end up a small part of all data collected for big data analysis, it will do no harm to your privacy.
However, if your data is used to draw a user image and made public, there is no doubt that your privacy is compromised. You should feel free to take measures to defend your rights and interests.
Child pornography is strictly banned in most countries such as the United States. Downloading copyrighted resources is illegal. In most developed countries, copyright holders even commission “copyright trolls”, law firms that deal with copyright issues, to work with network operators to gather information about who download and upload resources. After a certain period, they will accuse users of downloading illegal materials.
Phishing in torrent download
In addition to monitoring, you may also be phished while downloading torrents. Due to the nature of torrents, it is difficult for others to modify the files you are downloading. So malicious attackers are targeting the most vulnerable part — the torrent user.
To name a few examples, you may download a file and find that no program can open it. At the same time, you also download a program called “please install a dedicated decoder to open the file”. Programs are renamed the popular player or software. You may also download an encrypted RAR file attached with a text that tells you to get the password from a given website.
These are common methods that phish a lot of users every day.
Torrent downloads can be used for many purposes, such as game updates or massive data exchanges for open research and learning. Therefore, it is difficult and impossible to block torrent downloads. To avoid legal issues cause by torrent downloads, you should pay attention to the key words — copy and distribute. Operators are focused on upload traffic rather than download traffic.
As long as you follow the following tips, you can safely enjoy the convenience of using torrents.
Download legal resources
The safest way to use torrents is to download legal materials, such as open-source systems or non-copyright resources.
Do not download torrents on public networks
This is the most common advice, but it works. You’d better not use torrents using school and company WiFi, especially in Japan or the United States, where schools and companies have strict traffic controls. Featuring “upload as you download” can easily get you in trouble with the police. By contrast, private networks are much more secure. After all, you have more control over your data on private networks. Many people choose to download torrents via private WiFi.
In addition, all public free WiFi hotspots are unsecured. Even if the owner of the WiFi is not malicious, others with malicious purposes can still perform a man-in-the-middle attack to you.
If you have no choice but to connect to a public wireless network, you should use a program that protects you against man-in-the-middle attacks or a virtual private network.
Pay attention to abnormal changes in Internet speed and WiFi
The Internet speed will significantly slow down if your device is attacked by the man in the middle because all requests have an extra processing step. When we are surfing the Internet, Internet speed may suddenly become slow. If you turn on the defense software and the network speed becomes obviously faster, there may be someone monitoring your device in the network.
You should also pay attention to WiFi disconnection and reconnection. If that happens, or all the nearby open WiFi is not available and there’s only one suspicious WiFi for you to connect, you should change (hide) the name and password of your private WiFi. If the problem is solved after the change, it is likely that there is a hostile person nearby. You should watch out for malicious attacks via WiFi especially at public places.
Avoid too much Internet traffic
Most network operators won’t wast time and resources to detect what is downloaded by every user. They only check whether you’ve downloaded illegal files when there is a large file downloading. If you’ve been repeatedly warned by network operators, your personal information is likely to be submitted to the copyright holders.
Try to limit upload
Compared with download, network operators are stricter about upload. If you break the law, a law firm commissioned by the copyright holder will file a class-action lawsuit against all users who break the law based on information provided by the operator.
However, limiting upload will slow down the download speed, because your download speed is affected by the upload speed. Another thing that you can hardly notice is that many video streaming apps (especially Chinese video streaming apps) turn on P2P file-sharing by default to reduce server load. Please pay attention to relevant settings before using these clients.
Download torrents by using a virtual private network
Last but not least, a VPN is a good way for you to stay safe when downloading torrents, especially an illegal one. It protects you from the potential risks brought by torrenting. An encrypted tunnel is built between you and the VPN server to shield your torrenting from snooping.