A decade or so ago, torrent sites were about as safe as the mainstream Internet. But a number of factors make torrenting dangerous, including malware, bloatware, privacy considerations, and even legal concerns. Just like surfing and downloading on the Internet via normal browsing, downloading torrents carries the potential for infecting your computer with viruses, malware, adware, spyware, and other nasty things. But also like the searchable Web, you can use smart precautions and be wise about your torrenting and probably never experience a problem. Here’s how to keep away from shady or dangerous torrents:
Use a VPN
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a technology that is used to add a layer of privacy and security to your Internet use. You can download a VPN for free, but there are security and privacy issues related to free VPNs which make it sort of pointless in protecting you from the issues of torrents. Paid VPNs aren’t really that expensive and are far cheaper than restoring or replacing a system that gets wiped out by a nasty virus.
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Use a Seedbox
Some torrent users are so convinced of the protection afforded by a seedbox that they don’t even bother with a VPN. A seedbox is also extremely affordable (great ones are available for well under $20) and allow the user to download torrents without being traced back to their computer’s IP address. A seedbox is a remote server that downloads and transfers files to your computer, acting as a middleman and hiding your IP address. This acts as a layer of protection between your system and any scary stuff going on at the torrent site.
Stay Away From the Hottest Content
There are two reasons not to download the latest blockbuster the week it comes out or hop right over to nab that new Rihanna or Adele tune. First, downloading copyrighted content is illegal in most countries. The owners and agents of the copyright holders watch these hottest-of-the-hot downloads as well as the people downloading the content. Second, those are the places that will be rife with malware, and since the torrent is new, there likely won’t have been time for other users to post comments warning about the hazards.
Read the Comments Carefully
Which brings us to the important point of monitoring user comments. Read them. All of them. Pay close attention to signs that the download isn’t safe or that there might be legal reasons to avoid this particular torrent. Just like you wouldn’t buy something from eBay or Amazon without reading the customer reviews, don’t download a torrent without reading the comments.
Keep Your Antivirus Software Up to Date
Don’t head to the beach without sunscreen, don’t go out in a storm without your raincoat, and don’t download torrents without an up-to-date antivirus program installed on your computer. There are some great free programs, like Avast!, in addition to paid programs, like McAfee and Norton, all of which will offer you the malware and antivirus protection you need for all your Internet activities, torrent downloads included.
Stay safe online; click here to check out Avast for free!