If you are a torrent user how often do you worry about your privacy and general safety in the web? Have you ever thought what could be some of the threats you are exposed to when torrenting or do you know how to tell if you are doing it legally? Those are some important points to keep in my mind when enjoying the incredible variety of content available for torrenting.
Torrent peer-to-peer protocol for file sharing is completely legal however not all of the content available is free. In many cases the content might be protected by copyright and if it’s being freely distributed without permission from the owner it probably indicates the sources are questionable and then torrenting these files is illegal. You also need to make sure that the country you are browsing at does not have any restrictions for torrenting.
Many torrent users have already adopted VPNs to protect their privacy. In this article, we will aim to explain why it is necessary and some important points to keep in mind when choosing a VPN service.
How does Torrenting Work?
Torrent works through what is known as a “peer-to-peer” protocol. It is a very useful file sharing platform formed by two or more connected computers that share information with one another without going through a separate server. One of the computers, the seeder, contains the complete file and the leecher, as it is called, is the computer downloading the file. Peers are many computers that contain parts of the main file being downloaded.
There are many different Torrent clients out there that can get the job done functioning as a bridge to help you get files from other seeders and download them to your computer.
What are the possible issues I may face and how to prevent them?
Some of the main threats involved in torrenting include:
- IP-logging / IP monitoring
- Infection by Malware/Spyware
- Infection from malicious executable files
- Accidentaly downloading illegal torrents
The main issue faced by torrent users is in fact privacy, this is the threat against which a VPN could protect you.
Your IP address is publicly visible to every peer computer in the swarm. Your IP address can lead to your real identity. The issue can be more troubling than what it seems at first. The lowest risk possibility is your IP address end up being stored in a database of a certain institution or research company that might intend to use it for malicious purposes. It is never a good idea to have a company know your exact IP address.
In the other hand, you might decide to download content which is apparently legal but in fact is not. In that case, the legal responsibility would be attributed to you and your IP address can be used to find you and apply legal punishments of all sorts.
Another issue that might affect you is torrent monitoring by your own Internet Provider. When they detect torrenting activity they might block or throttle your torrent speeds, preventing seeding and decreasing your bandwidth usage. The way to prevent this kind of monitoring is by encrypting your torrents, which many VPN service providers do as well. For example, ExpressVPN does it. Read a review about this VPN.
When you use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) your read IP address is hidden and replaced by the IP address of a secure VPN server in a different location. This IP would be shared in the torrent swarm instead of yours so that your identity can never be traced by means of your IP.
Choosing a VPN provider and general security tips
A VPN that does the basic work of hiding your real IP is a non-logging VPN. Some ther features might be welcome as well in order to ensure your privacy. Among those are Torrent Encryption and a Kill-Switch which as a function that automatically kills your internet connection if the VPN suddenly stops working. This prevents IP leaks.
Other important actions to keep in mind in order to torrent safely are listed below:
- Always use an anti-virus
- Never torrent executable files – they could be malicious
- Don’t run you computer in Administrator mode in order to limit the privileges hat rootkits and trojans would need to make changes to your system.
- Don’t click ad bans on Torrent clients, and if you do, never ever download a file after clicking one.
- Consider setting up a Proxy in addition to your VPN.
- About Tor: Many surfers know Tor as a useful, completely anonymous browser, which is true. Tor is widely recommended when dealing with sensible information and private searches. However, torrenting is not recommended by Tor, because it slows the entire network connection. Therefore, Tor is configured to block file sharing by default, and besides, it is also not anonymous.
Taking all of those tips into consideration will allow you to enjoy the Torrent technology safely and avoid getting into trouble. Besides these tips, make sure to always update your antivirus, and VPN service provider since new ways of breaking into your privacy are constantly being created.