TORRENTING: You could be helping hackers – and you don’t know it
Every time you use your torrent client, you take a gamble. It doesn’t matter if it’s the usual chance of running in with some copyright organization; the web traffic using your torrent client is rarely 100% legal. But with technological advancements and research from security experts over the years, it has been determined that some of the most famous torrent clients can get you involved in a much different sort of legal problem: your PC can be used as a tool of a criminal attack without you even knowing it.
In theory, the way torrent clients work is by synchronizing several different connections between a bunch of people, allowing multiple simultaneous downloads that’s relatively fast and dependable. This distributed downloads stands out in modern technology – particularly, DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service. The way it works is that it focuses huge amounts of data requests to a single server, hence, bringing that server down with the weight of all those unexpected traffic. It’s not considered a “hack” because technically, nothing was accessed illegally. Nevertheless, a well-planned and calculated DDoS strike can be destructive to major establishments like governments and corporations.
The conventional technique in delivering this problem is via a virus discharge designed and modified to hijack systems and use them to coordinate a DDoS strike. The group of unknowing, and infected computers creates something called a “botnet”. The torrent client vulnerability allows for easy access and functionality, turning downloaders into unsuspecting attackers. This kind of attacks is both efficient and difficult to avoid since the vulnerability is built right into the torrent client’s transfer protocols.
Torrent clients use dynamic ports instead of DNS, so it’s not easily detected by malicious activity filters. These attacks have the capability of bringing even high-end infrastructure to its knees and they have been an ensuing problem over the years. Several years ago, one attack almost brought down a large chunk of the internet with a monstrous 400 Gbps of traffic and reportedly used just 4,500 NTP servers running 1,200 different networks – a modest number of individuals for an average torrent tracker.
Needless to say, these events will never cease – loopholes and vulnerabilities will always be found, working in favor of cyber criminals. Always take the time and effort to patch your software and update your security, because these cyber criminals do not rest. Someone, somewhere is dedicated and will always try to find a way to strike anytime.