BitTorrent Shrugs Off Massive Malware Attack

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Described as "One of the most prevalent pieces of malware in the last three years," the Downloader-UA.h trojan is running wild on P2P networks. But thanks to its system strength - and the work of torrent site moderators - such outbreaks are shrugged off by BitTorrent.

Anti-piracy outfits, like all organizations fighting against massive odds, rely heavily on the media to amplify their message. Whether it’s a some fringe group exploding a trash can to get attention or someone chaining himself to a prominent building in protest, using the media is relatively cheap and effective. Organizations like the RIAA and IFPI like to play the fear card to reduce file-sharing so a nasty malware attack on P2P networks, affecting up to 27% of tested PCs this week, is a dream come true for them, as they continue to spread their message that P2P networks are nothing but trouble.

However, in a testament to its structure and security, BitTorrent is almost immune from these type of attacks and that is why you never hear the RIAA and IFPI talk about viruses and BitTorrent in the same announcement. In terms of sharing files and avoiding malware, BitTorrent does really well.

This recent malware attack revolved around people downloading files which were renamed to look like music and movies, but instead engineer a situation where lots of other stuff gets installed on the host PC, causing all sorts of problems. While viewing some of the filenames listed by McAfee, I had to remind myself that I was a novice once too – but it was still a stretch for me to believe so many people would download files that look like these:

preview-t-3545425-changing times earth wind .mp3
preview-t-3545425-meet bambi in kings harem.mp3
preview-t-3545425-middle eastern chick.mpg
preview-t-3545425-theme godfather.mp3
t-3545425-bentley bizzle.mp3
t-3545425-haloween special.mp3
t-3545425-just got lucky.mp3
t-3545425-peanut butter jelly amende.mp3

The good news is that the chances of these type of files appearing on BitTorrent are very low as trackers have moderators who remove such junk, something which is largely impossible on Gnutella (LimeWire) and eMule (ed2k). As long as the ‘infected’ users keep this stuff in their shared folder, there is little that can be done to stop it spreading. If they don’t clean this stuff out, no-one will, and it’s in this department BitTorrent comes out tops – again.

First of all, BitTorrent isn’t a ‘folder sharing’ client like LimeWire or KaZaA, which means that the user needs to use a torrent site to distribute (publish) his torrent. If the content is legitimate (and there are very few rules in most places, save obviously illegal material) the .torrent file will be up for all to download, with links to malware and viruses mostly filtered out by humans – otherwise known as ‘mods’ or ‘moderators’.

BitTorrent has thousands of hard working and largely unpaid moderators, who work tirelessly to make sure that files like these don’t make it to the BitTorrent user’s computer. In reality, files presented like the ones above could never slip by the site mods, they would see them a mile away and remove them quickly.

BitTorrent isn’t 100% malware free but compared to Gnutella and ed2k, it is astonishingly healthy and that is largely down to the strength of the system and the mods, who work non-stop behind the scenes to keep BitTorrent an enjoyable experience.

For the few small things that slip through the net, try our guides.


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