One of the issues that Bittorrent users have to cope with regularly are fake torrents that are uploaded to popular Bittorrent websites like the Pirate Bay by malicious users to distribute malware or take advantage of users in other ways. A new research paper suggests that 90% of fake torrents come from only 20 publishers. A sample set of 30,000 torrents were analyzed by the researchers uploaded to the Pirate Bay website during a 14 day period in 2011. Interestingly enough, almost 35% of all torrents were associated with fake content by the researchers, an increase of 5% compared to a same sample size the researchers analyzed a year before.
Instead of relying on user accounts to identify fake publishers, a flawed method due to options to create as many user accounts as one desires on the site, the developers looked at the IP addresses used to distribute those files. And that's where they identified 20 publishers who were responsible for 90% of the fake torrent uploads on the Pirate Bay website.
More than 99% of all fake torrents identified by the researchers were either used to distribute malware directly or gain economical benefits from getting users to visit scam websites or other forms of scams. Less than one per cent of all fake torrents were associated with anti-piracy companies and agencies.
One of the interesting products of the research is a service called TorrentGuard, available both as a web service and a plugin for the Vuze Bittorrent client. You can visit the TorrentGuard website to verify a torrent either by upload it to the service, or pasting its info hash or magnet link into a form on the website.
The service basically checks the torrent in a database to verify whether it is (likely) legit or fake. I had some issues at the time of writing to get the online service to verify the torrents that I tried to check using the service.
The small sample size and period may explain why the researchers have found more more than 35% fake torrents in their research. The number itself seems very high.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.