One of the greatest risks of using BitTorrent is the risk of infecting your computer with spyware, adware, or malware. Many of the programs that are widely distributed on Bittorrent tracker websites are of unknown or unverified authorship. The programmers who wrote them could easily slip in extra code to install unwanted programs on your computer, or open a virtual backdoor to your machine, making you extremely vulnerable to identity theft and other types of cyber attacks.
Even seemingly safe programs such as popular freeware programs that are distributed using bittorrent may be re-engineered by hackers to include a Trojan or other virus in the installation. Here are some easy, free steps you can take to keep yourself safe:
Always read the comments before you download a file
Most Bittorrent trackers have a comment section for each file. Nearly all reasonably popular torrents will have at least one comment. If someone downloads a file and discovers that it contains a trojan, virus, or other malware, they will usually post that information in the comments on at least one tracker webiste, to warn other potential victims. Learn from the mistakes of others, and avoid problems in the first place.
The fewer seeds a torrent has, or the newer the torrent file is, the fewer comments you will find. For maximum safety, try to stick with tried-and-true torrents that have been around for at least a month or two. Somebody has to be the 1st leacher of a torrent, but it doesn’t have to be you.
Get Free Anti-virus protection
Perhaps you’ve had your computer for a year or two, and the antivirus subscription that your manufacturer included has expired. Perhaps you thought: “I’ve been fine thus far, I’ll just be careful.” Bad Idea! While most viruses aren’t true threats to your personal security (just the proper functioning of your computer) some of them can lead to identity theft and irreparable financial harm. Many of these types of trojans are distributed using Bittorrent because it’s one of the easiest ways to get someone to install a file, by hiding it inside another file.
The good news is: there are several excellent, free antivirus programs that will keep your system safe.
Avast has been on the scene for a while, and there free Anti-Virus protection is even better than many of the paid antiviruses out there. It doesn’t even include ads. It doesn’t include an integrated firewall iike their paid “internet security suite” does, but you get the same live virus scanning, and same virus definitions as the paid software, updated daily, and completely free.
If Avast isn’t quite your cup of tea, then take a look at AVG antivirus. Like Avast! they offer both a paid and free antivirus solution, but the free version is excellent for virus protection. If you want the integrated firewall, you’ll have to buy their paid version, but you can use any firewall you want, and there are some great free firewalls out there too.
Get a Solid Firewall to go with your antivirus software
A firewall is the perfect complement to solid antivirus software and an integral component of your network security. A firewall is a software barrier that controls which programs, and processes can access the internet from your computer, and even more importantly, what and who can access your computer from the outside. It also warns you of any possible cyber attacks or unusual activity
The best Firewall’s will also include a “sandbox” which is essentially a safe virtual environment in which to run executable software files if you’re not sure whether they present a threat to your computer. The firewall will alert you if the program is trying to gain access to system files or processes and give you the option whether you wish to allow it to do so.
There are a number of free firewalls available, but the best free firewall for bittorrent is definitely:
Comodo is a full-featured firewall that includes a process monitor, in/out port control, and a sandbox. The reason we love Comodo for bittorrent specifically, is that unlike some other firewall software, Comodo by default assumes that everything is a threat. No processes are allowed until you specifically give approval. This can be a bit tedious when you first install the software, but once grant access to a specific program, Comodo will remember it, and never ask you again. The result is a secure computer, where you are aware of everything that is going on. Comodo includes all their best features in the free version of the firewall. They do also offer a paid security suite that includes integrated antivirus software as well, for a comprehensive all-in-one package.
Use your head, and protect your computer, and your experience using Bittorrent should be a pleasant one.