More than 100 million people worldwide download uTorrent. This makes it one of the most popular torrent clients. It provides an incredible downloading experience on multiple platforms with several handful features.
It is a fast, lightweight, and well-featured torrent client that benefits the users from its intuitive user interface. However, the torrent client comes with security flaws that raise concerns about its security. In 2018, there was a vulnerability in the uTorrent Windows desktop app. Similarly, in 2015, the torrent client secretly installed mining software on users’ devices to hijack and earn money.
Now the question is whether uTorrent is safe or not. To your shock, the answer is NO; it is not safe to download torrents from uTorrent unless you take some privacy measures. If you care about your data and online privacy, you should use some privacy tools like a VPN and active antivirus to use uTorrent software.
Is uTorrent Illegal?
Introduced in 2005, uTorrent is owned and maintained by BitTorrent. It is a proprietary and closed-source torrent client that is legal. But, it can be used for digital piracy, which makes it illegal. The legality of the torrent software depends on what you download from it.
For example, it is legal if you use the software to download legal content or files, such as a free app or software. But, if you use the software to download any copyrighted content like a movie, TV show, song, or online game and distribute it, it is illegal.
Many countries have strict rules about copyright violations. You would face penalties if the concerned authorities caught you downloading copyrighted content. Nonetheless, uTorrent is not illegal until you use it to download unlicensed content.
Security Concerns Associated With uTorrent
UTorrent possessed security flaws that risk users’ online privacy. Using and installing uTorrent for torrenting exposes you to potential risks and threats. Downloading torrents using the uTorrent client might lead to malware infiltrating your network. It usually happens when you download a bogus or fake torrent file. Here’s the timeline of all such events.
- In 2014, Google Chrome blocked the BitTorrent client uTorrent after flagging it as malicious and harmful. Google’s safe browsing diagnostic page accused uTorrent of distributing malware. But, there were no details provided on the nature of the malware.
- In 2015, reports revealed that uTorrent installs bitcoin mining software on its users’ devices. The primary purpose behind it was to hijack their computers to earn profit. The mining software silently gets installed on the victims’ device, and users do not know about it.
- In 2018, the Google security researcher discovered another flaw in the uTorrent software. There was a severe remote code execution flaw in the uTorrent desktop app for Windows and uTorrent Web. The security researcher, Tavis Ormandy, found several issues with the RPC servers. These servers can allow remote hackers to control the torrent download software. The parent company assured the users of Tavis’s vulnerability and urged them to update their software soon after the security patch-up.
- Recently in March 2021, uTorrent was again under the radar. Nineteen antivirus companies flagged uTorrent as malicious and unwanted software.
With all the news on uTorrent vulnerabilities, one would ask if that uTorrent is safe to use. The simple answer is no. Though the software soon comes up with security patches, the vulnerabilities can come back again. Thus, you always need data protection measures. Only by practicing the data protection tips like the ones discussed in the latter part of the article can you safely use uTorrent.
How to Use uTorrent Safely?
After knowing that uTorrent experiences vulnerability, do you still want to use uTorrent? If yes, there are some measures you should first take to mitigate the dangers.
Below are the best data protection tips you should follow to use uTorrent safely. So, let’s explore them one by one.
1. Use uTorrent VPN
Using a VPN is the best way to use uTorrent anonymously and safely. It gives you more control and privacy over your data while downloading torrents.
When you connect to the uTorrent client and start downloading a file, your IP address is visible to everyone sharing the file. Your IP address reveals your location, and you can face copyright violations. A VPN hides your IP address and adds an extra protection layer while downloading torrents from uTorrent.
Another advantage of using a VPN is that it allows access to blocked websites. It happens pretty often that ISPs flag the P2P traffic as suspicious without even checking whether it involves digital piracy or not. Hence, they block access to the uTorrent client. A VPN’s split tunneling feature prevents ISPs from differentiating activities and allows you to use the uTorrent client safely.
A compatible VPN like NordVPN or ExpressVPN supports P2P activities and enables users to use uTorrent safely because:
- It uses military-grade AES-256 encryption to safeguard your P2P traffic from all snooping eyes. Even if they want to track you, it will be impossible.
- Connecting to P2P-optimized servers results in fast connection speed. In this way, you also prevent speed throttling issues.
- The VPN protects against DNS, IP, and Torrent IP leaks.
- It comes with a kill switch feature. This feature pauses your internet connection when the VPN stops working. It is yet another way that prevents your IP address from getting leaked.
The features mentioned above are essential for the best torrent VPN that ensures using uTorrent securely.
2. Use Antivirus Software
Another tip for using uTorrent is to install the best antivirus software on your device. It has become a vital data protection tool while torrenting. It protects against trackers, malware, and viruses that infect your device.
As mentioned earlier, torrent files are pirated and contain malware. Downloading such files can make you exposed to these cyber threats. Thus, running antivirus protection software when you connect to the torrent is essential. Antivirus software scans the files for malware and viruses to ensure the secure downloading of torrent files.
3. Remove uTorrent Ads
Many people find the pop-up ads in uTorrent to be annoying and want to remove them. The torrent client offers an ad-free user experience but you have to pay for the ad-free version. It is possible to remove the ads manually by tweaking some of the advanced settings while using the basic plan of uTorrent software.
Following are the steps for removings ads in uTorrent. Since the client settings are pretty complicated, carefully follow the step-by-step instructions.
- On your device, open the uTorrent client and tap on Options.
- Choose Preference from the drop-down menu bar.
- From the sidebar, click on Advance.
- Now, various options will appear in a window on your screen. Change the value of specific options to False to disable the ads. You need to write some keywords in the Filter field present at the right side of the screen and change their value simultaneously. The screenshot below will tell you how to enter the keywords.
- Double-click on True and select False to change the value to false.
- When you have changed all the values, click on the OK option and make an exit from the uTorrent client.
Restart your uTorrent client and continue downloading files on ad-free uTorrent software.
4. Use uTorrent Pro
Another way to securely use the uTorrent client is to switch to its premium version. The torrent client offers four different subscription plans. Each of them varies in price and features. Here’s a look at uTorrent packages:
- Basic Plan: It is free to download and offers several customizable setting options. But, it won’t save you ads that disturb your downloading experience.
- Ad-Free: This version offers a clean user interface without any pop-up ads. You can buy this plan at an exclusive price of $4.95 per year.
- uTorrent Pro: It is the most popular subscription plan that is available for $19.95 per year. It aims to enhance your security on uTorrent software. It comes with a malware and antivirus scanner tool that scans the download file for malware, viruses, and other potential threats. Besides this, it is also ad-free and comes with a media player and file converter that allows you to play the audio and video files.
- uTorrent Pro + VPN: If you want to remain anonymous during torrenting, you should use this version. It includes all the pro version’s features with the addition of a VPN. This version includes a one-year subscription to CyberGhost VPN. It further enhances your online privacy while downloading torrents from the uTorrent software. You can download this version for $69.95 per year.
Investing in a premium plan like uTorrent Pro is worthy; it still doesn’t guarantee complete security and protection. It doesn’t offer a VPN, and the Pro + VPN version might not fit everyone’s budget. Thus, it’s better to use a VPN rather than buy the premium plan. A VPN will not cost you much like uTorrent packages. Other than the price, a VPN will provide you with both security and anonymity and ensure that you use uTorrent safely.
Final Verdict – Is uTorrent Safe to Use?
uTorrent safety and legality issues are two different things, and you should not mix them. The uTorrent software is legal, but things do change depending on what type of content or file you are downloading from it. Downloading copyrighted content from uTorrent is illegal, and you can encounter legal implications for this act. But, if you download non-pirated content via uTorrent, there are no legal issues with this.
Now, regarding safety, there are some concerns about uTorrent security. Since the software uses P2P connections, there’s a high chance of hackers getting into your network. Moreover, downloading a bogus file instead of the desired file you want to download can infect your device with malware. Even sometimes, the pop-up ads have malware embedded within them. Upon clicking those ads, malware can spread onto your device and result in data theft or hardware failure. uTorrent has faced vulnerabilities in the past that troubled the users and damaged their reputation in the market.
So, as a whole, uTorrent is not safe to use. Though the developers develop security patches, it is not a permanent solution. The vulnerabilities can come back any time, and you won’t figure them out immediately. But you can still consider using it by exercising some data protection measures. Using a compatible VPN or installing antivirus software can minimize the potential risks, and you can use uTorrent securely.