It’s always the same story with sites online that serve up content for free – they’re usually blocked here in the UK, but before long a ‘mirror’ site, or a proxy, shows up to make it available despite the restrictions. However, a research initiative into just how safe these unblocked torrent sites are has shown some worrying results. Apparently a lot of these mirror sites are filled with troublesome malware.
Internet security researcher Gabor Szathmari took a sample of some of these sites in order to check on the code behind them, and what it does. According to the research torrent mirror sites contain extra code on top or the original site they are meant to clone. This code can serve malware.
The problem is definitely an old one, and one that has been heavily covered in the media and debated in politics. It’s the case of prohibition – when something in demand is banned or prohibited, criminals almost always create a ‘black market’of sorts to keep the supply going. However, as we all know black markets are seldom safe havens for customers.
Just like Al Capone and his alcohol dealing gangsters in the American era of booze prohibition, criminals are jumping on a chance to start their own illicit market for torrent sites, and potentially rip off a few unsuspecting users on the way. Over 99% of sites were found to include rogue code, although not all of it served malware.
Of course this finding is great ammunition in the debate against the blocking of such sites that serve illegal downloads or Torrents – especially since in the UK the practice is very rarely policed. In other words, users are putting themselves at further risk than ever before using torrent mirror sites instead of the original domains.
If you want to go onto such sites then a cautious attitude is definitely the right one. Make sure you have up to date anti virus, popup blocker and ad-blocking software built into your browser, and of course don’t click on or download anything suspicious.
Source: Gabor Szathmari.com
Via: Torrent Freak