A Torrent is a file type used by the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol. The protocol authorizes and points to a remote server that contains the location of different remote hosts with an instance or part of the file to be shared or downloaded. BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer (P2P) protocol, finding users with files other users want and then downloading pieces of the files from those users simultaneously.
BitTorrent is a legitimate file transfer protocol, and using it (called torrenting) is legal as long as the content can be downloaded or uploaded legally. However, using it to download copyrighted material like a brand-new movie without the copyright owner’s permission is not legal. More than 200,000 users were sued in the United States between 2010 and 2011 for downloading copyrighted material using BitTorrent.
BitTorrents were a P2P file-sharing protocol without any incentives to keep torrents alive. When the technology was purchased by TRON, a Blockchain technology company in 2018, they merged blockchain and bittorrents together to create a new incentivized P2P/blockchain BitTorrent solution.
Advantage: digital content stored all over the Internet to serve up content quickly with incentives to keep the content online instead of allowing it to slowly degrade until the content disappears.
Disadvantage: a digital registry that could allow authorities to track down copyright infringement content, child pornography, or other illegal content based upon the blockchain registry which points to computers sharing the illegal content.
What does this mean for an SMB?
Torrents or Torrenting should be used with caution and generally prohibited within most businesses. There are plenty of alternatives for businesses to share large files with legitimate clients without relying on torrents. Torrents are also outside the technical capabilities of most employees.
BitTorrent has a reputation as a tool used to pirate movies, games, and other copyrighted content. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) know this and often send warning letters and anti-piracy educational materials to BitTorrent users. It’s important to understand what you’re downloading and if it’s protected copyright material.
To minimize the risk of a lawsuit by the RIAA, or legal notices from your ISP, CyberHoot recommends blocking access to Torrents, torrenting, at your company firewall. We also recommend you prohibit employees from using Torrents or torrenting in your cybersecurity policies and require all employees to acknowledge these discretionary restrictions by legally signing off on all cybersecurity policies.
Additional Cybersecurity Recommendations
It’s important to always be sure you’re installing a safe application on your devices. Always check reviews, the country of origin of the application, and the reputation of the developers. Additionally, these recommendations below will help you and your business stay secure with the various threats you may face on a day-to-day basis:
- Govern employees with policies and procedures. You need a password policy, an acceptable use policy, an information handling policy, and a written information security program (WISP) at a minimum.
- Train employees on how to spot and avoid phishing attacks. Adopt a Learning Management system like CyberHoot to teach employees the skills they need to be more confident, productive, and secure.
- Test employees with Phishing attacks to practice. CyberHoot’s Phish testing allows businesses to test employees with believable phishing attacks and put those that fail into remedial phish training.
- Deploy critical cybersecurity technology including two-factor authentication on all critical accounts. Enable email SPAM filtering, validate backups, deploy DNS protection, antivirus, and anti-malware on all your endpoints.
- In the modern Work-from-Home era, make sure you’re managing personal devices connecting to your network by validating their security (patching, antivirus, DNS protections, etc) or prohibiting their use entirely.
- If you haven’t had a risk assessment by a 3rd party in the last 2 years, you should have one now. Establishing a risk management framework in your organization is critical to addressing your most egregious risks with your finite time and money.
- Buy Cyber-Insurance to protect you in a catastrophic failure situation. Cyber-Insurance is no different than Car, Fire, Flood, or Life insurance. It’s there when you need it most.
All of these recommendations are built into CyberHoot’s product in combination with our vCISO Services. With CyberHoot you can govern, train, assess, and test your employees. Visit CyberHoot.com and sign up for our product and services today. At the very least continue to learn by enrolling in our monthly Cybersecurity newsletters to stay on top of current cybersecurity updates.
To learn more about Torrenting, watch this short 2-minute video
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- Cybrary (Cyber Library)
- Press Releases
- Instructional Videos (HowTo) – very helpful for our SuperUsers!
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