Anti-Virus Vendors Flag uTorrent and BitTorrent as a “Threat” Again

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The popular BitTorrent client uTorrent is currently being flagged as a threat by several anti-virus tools. The issue affects the desktop client as well as the Web version and the BitTorrent Mainline client. According to the anti-virus vendors, the flags were likely triggered by bundled advertisements or other unwanted software.

After the TRON acquisition, uTorrent and BitTorrent’s social media channels have been predominantly ‘crypto’ oriented.

The core audience of the file-sharing clients, which still consists of millions of users, remains mostly interested in downloading and sharing files though.

This is something uTorrent still does well and the same is true for the BitTorrent Mainline client. However, new users of these clients have repeatedly been warned not to use the software by several leading anti-virus vendors.

In the past BitTorrent Inc. classified such warnings as false positives which it could resolve relatively easily. While that may be true, it appears that the problem is rather persistent and likely more structural than some would think.

After alarmed users reported the issue in uTorrent’s forums this week, we decided to scan the latest release for potential threats. According to VirusTotal, nine separate anti-virus vendors currently flag the software as problematic.

This includes the popular Windows Defender, which labels the torrent client as a severe threat. While that sounds scary, the detailed description shows that it may include “Potentially Unwanted Software,” a term commonly used for adware.

This is not the first time uTorrent has had this problem. Microsoft has flagged the torrent client in the past as well, as the dedicated Utorrent threat page shows as well. This flag was later removed, presumably after the software was updated, but now they are back in full force.

Other anti-virus tools that warn users against uTorrent include Comodo, drWeb, Eset and Sophos, as the list below shows.

It’s unclear what has triggered the recent warnings. According to VirusTotal, two anti-virus companies mention “Web Companion” as the problem. This likely points to Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware software, which is sometimes bundled with uTorrent.

The warnings are not limited to the uTorrent desktop client either. The BitTorrent Mainline client, which shares most of its code with uTorrent, is also flagged as harmful by eight anti-virus tools and uTorrent web by four.

When similar issues occurred early last year, uTorrent parent company BitTorrent Inc. informed us that a “false positive” was triggered by one of their releases. However, if these are indeed false positives, they are recurring ones.

We reached out to the company for a comment on our findings, but at the time of writing, we have yet to hear back.

Any uTorrent users who receive the warning should proceed at their own risk. When we installed the most recent uTorrent we didn’t spot anything nefarious being installed but, in the past, we have noticed that the client was bundled with adware.

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