Torrenting has definitely made life easier for people. And it got a recent spike in popularity with more and more people getting fed up with the dozens of streaming services that are on the market right now.
But as convenient as it can be, torrenting can also be very dangerous – especially if you don’t use a VPN.
Why Torrenting Without A VPN Is Very Risky
Depending on which country you live in, torrenting can be a gray area or something highly illegal.
For example, in the US, you risk receiving DMCA notices, huge fines, or even ending up in court. And the same thing can happen to you if you’re in Canada.
But if you’re in Switzerland, you don’t need to worry about that since you can freely torrent any content you want as long as it’s for personal use.
And your ISP giving your info to copyright agencies isn’t all you need to worry about – there are also copyright trolls.
They might sound funny, but trust me – they really aren’t.
Basically, they’re people or agencies that “hunt down” torrent users, and share their info with copyright agencies.
Some of them might file lawsuits against torrent users directly. In fact, in the first half of 2019, one copyright troll filed around 1,000 lawsuits.
And some copyright trolls can be so bad that they try to scare torrent users by threatening to sue them for huge amounts (like $50,000 or more), and say they’re willing to drop the lawsuit for a small settlement (around $2,000 or $3,000).
Oh, and that’s not all. Lawyers hired by copyright holders can download torrents containing their clients’ work, check the IP addresses in the Peers tab, and contact the users’ ISPs to ask for their info.
Don’t forget – your IP address reveals a lot about you:
- What country you live in.
- What city you live in.
- Who your ISP is.
- And what your ZIP code is.
Also, your ISP might make it clear in their ToS that they don’t allow torrenting with their service. If you go against their rules, they will send you threatening letters.
But if you’re unlucky enough, and they want to make an example out of you, your ISP might terminate your service directly, leaving you with no Internet access overnight.
Safe to say, that’s everybody’s worst nightmare nowadays.
Oh, and if you happen to download torrents when you’re on vacation, the hotel might kick you off their WiFi network.
How A VPN Makes Torrenting Safe
It’s pretty simple – a VPN encrypts your Internet traffic. Nobody can monitor it to see what you’re doing – not even your ISP.
To them, it would just seem like you’re browsing HTTPS websites.
A VPN hides your real IP address, and replaces it with the VPN server’s own address. Copyright trolls and lawyers won’t get to track down your ISP this way. The IP address they’ll see in the torrent client will only lead them to data centers in various parts of the world.
So, it’s clear that you should never torrent without using a VPN. To find the right one for the job, follow that link – it’s a clear, easy to understand review of the most suitable VPN services for torrenting right now.
That’s Not All
A VPN can do much more for you than just keeping you out of legal trouble:
- It can prevent bandwidth throttling. That’s when your ISP intentionally lowers your online speeds because you’re using up “too much data” downloading files. Since the VPN encrypts your traffic, your ISP can’t see your data packets, and selectively throttle your speeds for certain services.
- It stops other members of the Swarm from seeing your real IP address. Like I already said, your address reveals tons of personal info about you. The last thing you want is some weird cyberstalker or hacker targeting your ISP with phishing and vishing attacks.
- A VPN can keep you safe from DoS/DDoS attacks. Maybe you had a spat in the comments section with a random user, and accidentally mentioned what country you’re from. If they’re angry and determined enough, they can track down your IP address in the client, use it to find your network, and flood it with DoS/DDoS attacks (which are pretty cheap, by the way). Luckily, a VPN hides your real IP address, so that’s no longer a problem.
Note that you should also never use free VPNs as they pose a risk to your privacy and may not be trustworthy.
How Else Can You Make Torrenting Safer?
Using a VPN when torrenting is very smart, but you should also do the following to make things much more secure:
Use Antivirus/Antimalware Protection
Unfortunately, some torrents can actually contain malware – like it was the case with torrents of Game of Thrones episodes.
Some malicious torrents are easy to spot. A 34Kb file claiming to be the new Star Wars game is a dead giveaway.
But other types of malware are much more subtle, and easy to overlook – especially if you’re in a rush.
That’s why you should install security software on every device you use to download torrents. Some good options include Malwarebytes, ESET, and Avast.
Use Script Blockers
Sometimes, the torrent websites are the problem – not the torrents themselves.
We’re talking about torrent websites that contain malicious scripts and ads. Or torrent proxies that have malware-injecting scripts.
Join Private Communities
Since only a limited number of users can join a private torrenting community from time to time, you’re much less likely to come across malicious torrents.
That and you’re unlikely to deal with aggressive users who try to DoS/DDoS you to ruin your seed ratio.
Finding and joining such a community can take time, though, so we recommend signing up for waiting lists starting right now.
Redacted, IPTorrents, and TorrentBits are good examples of decent private torrenting communities.