When torrent sites first surfaced in the late 1990s, the concept was originally designed to be peer-to-peer (P2P) networking platforms to share files, data, software, movies, songs and information that were not easily available on the internet at the time.

Even to this day, a major share of internet content—such as old versions of popular software programs and abandoned movies and music—are being actively distributed over torrent links. Security Gladiators compiled a list of the top 10 torrent sites which should give you a quick idea of what platforms are out there and whether they are safe and reliable to use.

But, when anyone visits a torrent or P2P website, there are bound to be major consequences in many ways. The primary reason why torrenting is associated with illegal activities and legal action by the government is because a lot of users rely on the technology to share copyrighted material.

Countries around the globe detest the practice of downloading movies or software through torrents because they affect the original developers. Regulatory bodies reason that torrents hinder progress and encourage users to illegally download the resources available on the internet without having to pay the necessary cost of the content.

Still, peer-to-peer file sharing has retained mainstream popularity and interest since the concept first emerged

But it’s important to keep in mind the disadvantages and dangers involved in accessing and using illegal torrent sites. A few of them are outlined below.

There Are Security Risks

The foremost issue that most individuals would face when accessing a torrent website is the chance their device will be infected by malware. These websites are often run by shady operators around the globe and they make no promise to keep you safe while browsing.

When a user clicks on a torrent download link, an additional three to five different links will also pop up.From there, it is up to you to find the right one.

While some links are plain advertisements to make revenue, some website moderators subtly include malware in the original torrent file or in the alternate links. If you wrongly click on them, they will be downloaded to your computer. They could carry malware, viruses and ransomware, or they could be sending unsolicited usage data to a third-party advertiser.

This is why most antivirus software programs block or delete torrent files—because they are prone to risk at all times.

You Could Lose Data

The concept of a P2P website is that there are no servers on the other end. The person who downloads the file also becomes an uploader as they share a file with another person. All torrents establish a connection between multiple peers in order to keep sharing the file, opening multiple ports on your router.

This makes it easy for hackers to gain access to your data and even take control of your computer or crucial data if they choose to. Besides, the malware or virus on a different computer may try to access your PC through the P2P network leading to data loss and other serious implications.

You May Face Jail Time

Most internet users are aware of this fact but they still aren’t clear as to how serious the consequences could actually be if they’re caught. In order to get an idea, it is important to know how torrents and P2P websites work.

The illegal uploader of a movie or software program never has to stay online or host a server because everything is done by the users. They have to initiate the download to a group of people and can choose to go offline permanently. In other words, every government and legal body will consider you as the first offender rather than the person who originally uploaded the file in the first place.

The film and music industry, which is serious about copyright law to protect their revenue, has created pressure on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide them a list of websites you access, which will in turn be handed over to the legal body.

While the actual penalty and imprisonment may vary, the telecom operator has all the proof to show that you have visited a torrent site and downloaded data. The laws regarding this issue depend on the country of origin. India is particularly strict on file sharing, threatening to sentence three years of imprisonment to torrent users if they’re caught.

Under United States federal copyright law, the fines could go up to $250,000 if you’re caught with multiple copyrighted works downloaded from torrent sites. Equally strict punishment is established in other countries as well. 

Published by Arina Smith