We all use torrents – it’s no secret. But how much do we really know about how legal they are, and how to torrent safely?
Well, if you want to learn about that, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll be discussing exactly what you need to know about how to torrent safely to make sure you don’t end up in trouble with the law or a victim of malware.
We here at SmartyDNS don’t condone or encourage illegal copyright infringement of any kind. However, we are aware that some people can only get access to the software, entertainment, and school or work files they need through torrents.
A torrent is a type of file that’s used by the Bittorrent protocol. It points to a remote server and authorizes a connection to it to allow users to connect to numerous remote hosts, each one of them having a part of a file that needs to be downloaded or shared.
Yes and no. Torrenting itself isn’t really illegal but what you are downloading or sharing can make it a legal problem.
For example, torrenting stuff like open-source software is perfectly fine since the owner of the software made it free in the first place. However, torrenting copyrighted content such as movies, video games, and music is often illegal since it goes against copyright laws.
Besides that, whether or not torrenting is legal depends on the country you live in as well. Some countries have stricter copyright and torrenting regulations than others.
For example, the US is well-known for its harsh stance on torrenting (to the point where you tisk huge fines and jail time), while places like Spain and Poland allow people to download copyrighted content as long as it’s for personal use.
Also, there are countries that have regulations regarding torrenting copyrighted content which are often overlooked by the authorities, such as Romania, Greece, and Brazil.
Well, it’s important to keep in mind that your ISP can pretty much see whatever you do on the Internet if they want to. Your traffic is not encrypted, so they can see what websites you access, what things you browse for, and – most importantly – what files you download.
Of course, that would imply that your ISP has people employed 24/7 to monitor all user Internet activity. That is a highly unlikely scenario simply because your ISP would need a large team to manage such a feat, which is a huge expense.
How your ISP actually sees that you torrent files is by checking the 6881 to 6889 TCP ports. Those are the ports Bittorrent technology and torrents use for file transfer. If they notice any suspicious files and traffic going through those ports, they can investigate and see if you downloaded illegal content or not.
If your ISP sees you downloaded illegal torrents, they’ll either send you a warning if you’re lucky, or they’ll report you to copyright agencies.
Sometimes, it can. For one, you should be very careful because not all torrenting websites are safe to use. Some of them may choose to post malware-infected torrents while others may not always check the files they are hosting, meaning you risk downloading malicious files.
Also, if a user uploads a file from an infected computer, chances are that the files you download might also be infected with viruses.
In case you happen to download a malware-infected torrent, you might be exposed to all sorts of dangers, such as:
And those are just some examples. In the end, no matter what type of malware or virus you might get, you could risk losing sensitive data and having it sold on the deep web or hold for ransom, as well as getting your financial information (credit card details, bank account details) stolen.
Also, another risk associated with torrenting is the fact that other users in the Swarm (the total number of uploaders and downloaders for a specific torrent) can see your IP address. Most of the time, that isn’t necessarily concerning, but do keep in mind that people with bad intentions could use your IP address to find out various things about you, such as:
Here are the main things you should do if you want to enjoy a safe experience (both from legal accusations and malware) when downloading torrents:
Yes, there actually is such a thing as legal torrents. True, the content isn’t usually too diverse, and it’s generally just open-source software, old content that became public domain, and independent games and movies that were released for free.
Still, if you can find what you want on a legal torrent website, it’s a more than decent solution.
Here are some websites you can use to find legal torrents:
Some torrent clients (like µTorrent, for example) give you the option to secure your torrenting to a certain extent by using encryption to hide your torrent traffic from your ISP.
This isn’t a completely foolproof method, though. The cryptography that is used is relatively weak, and the client encryption doesn’t hide the fact that you’re part of the Swarm. Still, it’s a method worth trying out.
Since there’s always a risk that some torrents might contain malware and other types of viruses, it’s a good idea to have a decent anti-virus/anti-malware program on your device.
Here are some examples you should consider:
Also, it’s worth mentioning that a virus is a type of self-replicating malware, so anti-virus and anti-malware programs are essentially the same thing.
Still, you should keep one thing in mind – when torrenting, anti-virus and anti-malware programs can detect false positives. Those are bening programs that the anti-virus/anti-malware program detects as being malicious when, in reality, it isn’t. That can happen because the security software uses a very broad detection signature.
A good example of a false positive can be a crack or a keygen generator for a video game. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have your guard up whenever you download torrents and get a warning from your anti-virus/anti-malware program, but it’s something you need to take into consideration.
Private torrenting platforms are a decent option because only a limited number of users are allowed to use them. Also, the torrents that get uploaded there are thoroughly checked and scanned to make sure they don’t contain any malicious content.
Some examples of private torrenting websites include:
The only downsides to private torrenting websites is that getting an invite can be pretty difficult, and you might have a long waitlist to go through.
PeerBlock is software that can block the IP addresses of various IP trackers on your behalf. Basically, it ensures they don’t become part of your torrent traffic. While this doesn’t mean you’re 100% protected from being discovered by your ISP, it is a way to minimize the risk of getting a letter from the MPAA or RIAA.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a service you can use to protect your online data and hide your IP address on the web. Since it can encrypt your Internet connections and traffic, that means your ISP can’t see what you are doing on the web – not even what files and torrents you download. So, you don’t need to worry about your ISP sending you warning messages or reporting you to copyright agencies.
What’s more, even if your torrenting activities are perfectly legal, you should always torrent with VPN services. Here’s why:
Generally, yes. If you want to learn how to torrent anonymously to a certain extent, a VPN is a great choice since it hides your digital footprints by masking your IP address and securing your traffic.
Of course, you do need to make sure you are using a reputable, decent VPN provider. Ideally, it shouldn’t be a free VPN provider since they might spam you with ads, sell your bandwidth and data, or even contain malware or advertise encryption that doesn’t exist.
Also, you need to remember that a VPN doesn’t protect you from malicious programs. For that, you should use a reliable anti-virus/anti-malware program alongside it.
We here at SmartyDNS offer high-speed VPN servers with military-grade 256 bit AES encryption and highly-secure VPN protocols (OpenVPN, SoftEther and IKEv2) and we adhere to a strict no-log policy.
Our VPN servers double as proxy servers and we also offer a Smart DNS service that lets you unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other 300+ worldwide geo-restricted websites.
We offer user-friendly VPN apps for Windows, Mac, iPhone/iPad, Android, and Fire TV/Stick and browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
Oh, and we’ll also have your back with our 30-day money-back guarantee.
While torrenting isn’t exactly illegal, what you torrent can be against the law depending on whether or not the files are copyrighted, and what country you live in too. Another risk associated with torrents is the fact that they might contain malware.
To make sure you’re safe when downloading torrents, you should consider the following:
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