Every country in the world has its own regulations when it comes to torrenting. For example, in Bulgaria and Poland torrenting is overlooked, while in countries like Canada or Australia, torrenting sites have been shut down. And these are just a few examples of how different torrenting regulations are around the world.
One thing you have to make sure, though, is that your online identity is protected. That’s why using a VPN to keep you safe when torrenting can be one of the best things you can do when you’re online.
And that’s because torrenting can expose you to a few major risks. And almost every one of them is strictly related to having your IP address exposed.
How Can Someone Find My IP Address When I’m Torrenting?
When you’re torrenting, everyone’s IP address (yes, including yours) appears on a huge list called the torrent swarm.
And plenty of bad things might happen if someone sees your IP address in a torrent swarm.
What Happens If Someone Catches You Torrenting?
Depending on who’s seeing your IP address, you might experience one (or even more) of these situations.
- Copyright Lawyers Can Target You
In some countries (Canada, for example), studios might hire lawyers to penalize those who’ve downloaded copyrighted materials illegally. For this, lawyers infiltrate torrent swarms and collect everyone’s IP address.
Once they get your IP address, the lawyers will contact your internet service provider (ISP) by sending aggressive letters asking for your contact information. If your ISP complies, you risk being sent to court for torrenting and paying fees up to $10,000 or more.
- Copyright Scammers Can Target You
These scammers do the same thing legit studios do – they pressure your ISP into giving your contact information.
Once they get it, they’ll threaten to take you to court for $10,000 or some other huge sum, unless you agree to pay them a smaller amount (let’s say $5,000).
But keep in mind that these scammers have nothing to do with legit studios. They might use the same tactics to scare you, but the end goal is money extortion.
So whenever you see an email that sounds like “you’re in big trouble, but we’ll leave you alone if you give us money”, keep in mind that’s just a scam.
- Trolls Can Target You with DDoS Attacks
Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks stop you from using the internet. Trolls will flood your internet network with so much unwanted traffic until they overload it and you don’t have access to the internet anymore.
Who benefits from DDoS attacks?
Most of the time, attackers do this so they can request money to stop the attack. Or they just want to annoy you so they do it “for fun.”
How Can You Hide Your IP Address When Torrenting?
VPNs are the best option – they hide your IP address and encrypt your traffic on top of that.
On the one hand, that means that no one (ISPs, the government, copyright lawyers, or online attackers) can see your IP address anymore. On the other hand, once you’re connected to a VPN, nobody can see what you’re doing online – what you’re downloading, what you buy, or what websites you use.
And that’s because when you’re connected to a VPN server, everything that goes to and from your devices will be encrypted (made unreadable, basically).
Are Free VPNs Safe for Torrenting?
If you’re using a free VPN – yes, someone can catch you torrenting.
And that’s because many free VPNs aren’t as secure as paid VPNs. In fact, they even lack a few important things.
First of all, many free VPNs don’t have a kill switch. That means that when the internet connection drops, your IP address can be exposed and you can get caught torrenting. A kill switch will disconnect your device from the internet if you happen to get disconnected from the VPN server.
Sure, it might be a little bit inconvenient sometimes, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Secondly, free VPNs don’t have bank-grade encryption. Paid VPNs’ encryption is so complex, it’s almost impossible for someone to crack it. However, many free VPNs don’t even have this type of encryption.
Thirdly, free VPNs log your private information. Just because they’re free doesn’t mean they don’t need money. So in many cases, they’ll collect private information (browsing history, downloaded files, IP address) and sell it to advertisers.
Top VPN providers, however, come with no-logs policies – no matter what you do, they won’t collect your data or take advantage of it. Some of them, like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, have even undergone independent audits to prove their no-logs claims are true.
Oh, and here’s something else that’s annoying about free VPNs – they’re slower than paid VPNs and also come with bandwidth caps. The latter means they limit how much data you can use – most free VPNs have 500 MB or 2 GB monthly data caps. So you can’t even download a full movie or video game.
Are You Worried About Being Caught Torrenting?
Are you scared someone will send your ISP angry letters or DDoS your network? Or do you think those things will never happen to you?
Let us know how you feel about this in the comments. If you use a VPN to torrent, please tell us which one and why. And please mention any other security tools you use when torrenting.