What do you do when you want something – maybe a music file, movie, or software – and you are not ready to pay for it? Options abound at this point, you could download it illegally from some download site, you could get a paying friend’s own and copy it to your system, or you could just torrent it.
Torrents are a very popular platform for sharing and distributing stuff on the internet, possibly the most popular. It is said that to be on the safe side when torrenting a file in order to make sure it’s the real thing, and not a fake or some malware, you check the number of active seeders and leechers, you check its search engine rankings (if the item is a very popular one, maybe some newly released movie or premium piece of software), you check whether the size of the torrent corresponds with the normal file size of the item, etcetera.
So there is this game called Grand Theft Auto, it’s what I believe they call a Role Playing Game (RPG), where you control a gangsta player that does a series of politically incorrect acts in order to advance in the thing. The latest incarnation of the game, GTA V proved to be a very popular franchise that broke all sorts of world records such as becoming the best selling video game ever, and the online franchise to hit profits of a billion dollars within the shortest time.
It is apparent that this game is in very serious demand, and such demand will include the people who want it without having to pay for it. Now let’s say I want to play GTA on my PC, but I’m too badass for doing it the legal and proper means, so what do I do? I search for something like “download GTA 5 for Windows” on Google, I click on the first result I see, which (usually) is a torrent, I follow the recommended steps mentioned above to verify the torrent file I see, and it all apparently checks out. So I proceed to download the torrent to my computer.
Fingers salivating (or whatever the equivalent) itching to play the latest version of the gangsta game, already imagining missions and counter-missions. I complete the approximately 18GB torrent file and proceeded to install…
Of course, there’s a catch. No I mean there are catches. First, the file size of the original game is nowhere near that volume, it’s actually about one-third of it. But I don’t care, right? Remember I’m badass. That must mean that the PC version is even more comprehensive than on the consoles.
Or is it Catch 22? There is no PC version of Grand Theft Auto Five.
I enter into an “Oh my God! Oh my God!! Oh my God!!” moment. I quickly googled about it and I find that the torrent is a fake and the entire 15GB of data I, and thousands of other gameheads, so happily downloaded is full of malware and viruses.
The first thing that came to my mind when I read that story: “Wow! 15GB of malware! That’s some quality work. The “developer” should get a handshake. Where does one even start to cleanse such a computer?
I finally learn my lessons:
- Illegal torrents of legit premium software are never safe. In fact, torrents are never safe
- I should research more if I want to do things like this
- The fact that the filesize of my torrent is just as big, or even bigger than the size of the actual copy of the item does not mean it’s not a virus
- Software from the wild is unsafe
Apply these lessons to mobile and apps downloaded from the wild as well. You get the picture?