One Person's Tale Using A Torrent & Fighting A Virus Attack

I ran into this tale of woe, in which a trained tech. did an experiment and tried downloading software from a torrent. If you are not familiar with torrents they are best described as a system wherein everyone shares a folder on their system to make downloading easier. The usual warnings apply in that the downloads are usually illegal since they violate copyrighted law.

However, not to get involved in the legal aspects, there is another lesson to be learned. In the article it states:

I scanned my download with the latest version of AVG; all clear. I installed it and immediately all sorts of warnings informed me that my homepage was being changed; applications were trying to access the internet and several processes were attempting to place themselves in the start-up areas of Windows. Yikes!

Something in that torrent file was infecting my machine. After unplugging my network, (to avoid infecting the whole building), I noted filenames in the warning dialogues and frantically started searching. I found eight “droppers” and tried to delete them. No go; they were being used by Windows. After restarting in safe mode, I managed to delete a couple of them, but most had been integrated into Windows.

When Windows started, the viruses ran with it, and there was no way I could delete the infected files within Windows. I booted my machine using a bootable DVD, and, after mounting the drive, scanned it with several scanners, picking up 14 infected files.

I had to manually remove many other suspect files and edit the registry to remove viral hooks. Even then, after restarting Windows I still couldn’t find one particular process that almost had me tearing my hair out. Purely by luck I found the rogue process, which was disguised as a valid Windows system file. Interestingly, no virus scanner flagged it as a threat. Once removed, everything returned to normal.

So there you have it. In the final statement this summoned it up best:

What a way to spend an afternoon – if I had to pay for the clean-up, it would have been hundreds of dollars; all for a $40 piece of software.

I hope you get the moral of this story. I did.

Comments welcome.


Article Written by

I have been writing for Lockergnome for eight years.

  • Ryan

    Torrents don’t kill computers, idiots that shouldn’t be using the computer kills the computer.

    First of all, a torrent file itself CANNOT carry a virus, there is absolutely never any danger in loading the torrent file, it’s just data that tells your torrent client how to go out and grab the various pieces of the file, and the torrent client doesn’t know what you’re downloading, it just does what you told it to, and downloads it, no different than downloading a file off a website using Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, or what have you, torrent is just a file download protocol, no more no less.

    Second, the legality of what you’re downloading has nothing to do with the torrent protocol, you could find a stash of mp3’s on a website and download them with your internet browser, and still violate the same law.

    Third, there are MANY uses for bittorrent that are quite legal, usualyl software publishers that want to minimize bandwidth costs like Revision3, or Linux distributors like Ubuntu, or legal music download sites that license their music under Creative Commons, like Magnatune or Jamendo, to classify bittorrent as a piracy tool is a bit like saying we should outlaw cars because there are a few drunk drivers.

    Fourth, if you must download something in executable format, regardless of protocol, you should have fully updated anti-virus, and anti-spyware protection, and make sure the file is thoroughly scanned before attempting to open it, there are many free anti-virus programs, Avira Antivir, AVG, and Avast, and you can install Clamwin (a by request virus scanner) to right click and select “scan with Clamwin for a second opinion.

    You might also avoid the obvious viruses, files that are way smaller than you’d expect, crack files (duh!), etc.

  • Ron Schenone

    Hi Ryan,
    This is why I used the word ‘tale’. If you read real closely it was almost like the user went out to get infected. :-)

  • James

    Just as I was about to say, Ryan. However, I have to add that you forgot one point: Torrent software are different from folder sharing software like limewire or kazaa in that they don’t indiscriminately share all files within a folder.
    Also, if the file is small enough, you can scan it via just my two bits.

  • James

    also I realize that this comment is moderated, but if the mod lets this thru im gonna spam a little (I’m sorry)… visit, I have a little stuff that should be publicized but I can’t seem to garner attention.

  • Ron Schenone

    Hello James,
    No need to apologize. :-)

    This should work better.

    Good luck on your blog. Ron

  • David

    Hey all. might be a good place to check out an iffy file. Sorry if this constitutes as spam. Just thought is might help some out.

  • Ron Schenone

    Hi David,
    Thanks for the link.

  • Gary Greene

    I strongly suspect a torrent dragged into the microtorrent program window gave my computer the (program destructive) virut virus a few months ago. It was an extremely large torrent which should have rung alarm bells but it happened to be the first time I used the program. The torrent changed the desktop wallpaper and ran a strange little virus checker which asked for money to clean the virus it had just installed. But virut is virtually uncleanable requiring reloading affected programs and or operating system.

  • Abhinv

    There is no end to dumbness. Absolutely no end.

    This is the moral of the above story.

    Dont blame torrents if you have a freaking dumb mind.

    Actually its not just torrents, computers are not meant for fools like you.

  • grasseater

    instead of talking crap like this alien abhinv it would help a lot if you cud simply explain the process on how to avoid viruses from torrents & what to do if you get one