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Crypto currency miner ‘quietly’ bundled with μTorrent

Discussion in 'Technology' started by ShogunXXX, Apr 4, 2015.

  1. ShogunXXX

    ShogunXXX Active Member


    Are you in a hurry to install the newest version of μTorrent? Be careful of what you hit agree to.

    Users of μTorrent are fuming after it came to notice that the newest version of the popular file sharing app (version 3.4.2) is coming covertly bundled with Epic Scale which uses a portion of the CPU cycles to mine crypto-currency Litecoin. One Litecoin is worth $1.89.

    The complaints in the forum imply that the users had
    no indication of the software being installed, and the reactions ranged from discontent to outraged “good bye μtorrent”.

    Users are furious that the processing power of their computers are being utilized without their knowledge.
    Bit Torrent has released an official statement that

    Epic Scale is not installed without the consumer’s permission. They further added that like other software companies, they have partner packages in the install path which are strictly optional.
    Epic Scale which euphemistically proclaims “Your computer has the power to change the world” denied allegations of the sly installations and said it is included in Bit Torrent clients.
    It's website explains,

    “Epic Scale uses your computer’s idle time to do genomics research, protein folding, image rendering, cryptocurrency mining, and more, then we give a majority of the profits to charities like Watsi (life-changing surgeries), and Immunity Project (HIV vaccine). We do not spy on your browsing behavior or scan your files or anything like that.”

    Epic Scale's CEO,Tim Olson stated that they will shift from mining Litecoin to working for full time science research projects.

    Philanthropic initiatives aside, the troubling fact remains that it is flagged as a risk and blocked by trackers and firewall. It is difficult to uninstall according to users; in addition to the Removal via Add/Remove Programs, all residual files in the program drive has to be removed manually. Epic Scale however maintains that it is not a spyware.
    It is to be noted that since BitTorrent varies the bundled partner software for each download, not all users will get Epic Scale.
    The furore on the forum, prompted Epic Scale to damage control mode. The site has been updated with clear instructions on how to uninstall the code, and the company has promised to display clearer opting out options in the future.
    For those who are having troubles uninstalling, can visit Epic Scale's uninstall instructions, or email its support address for help in removing the software.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2015
    chazz00 and CoolKevin like this.
  2. Elldallan

    Elldallan Active Member

    Personally I'm still using uTorrent 2.2.1 so I don't get any of the ads or this bloatware. But from what I heard when this first "aired" users weren't always prompted to install the Epic Scale program, it was just quietly installed in the background without your consent.
  3. ShogunXXX

    ShogunXXX Active Member

    At least there are still open source software

  4. Ceewan

    Ceewan Famished

    Nope. I am using the latest version of Utorrent and this program was neither offered to me nor installed on my system ( I checked thoroughly). It is usually a very good ideqa to keep up with upadted versions but I would still be using an older version myself if I hadn't found a way to disable the ads (couldn't stand them). P2P file sharing is pretty risky business as you are constantly inviting other computers into your system (albeit with limited access) so keeping abreast of security updates is a good idea.

    I never liked the fact that Utorrent was closed source but that doesn't mean that it is not the most effecient bittorrent program to date.
  5. Elldallan

    Elldallan Active Member

    Normally I would most certainly agree with you, but to my knowledge there are no known security vulnerabilities in uTorrent 2.2.1 that have been patched in later versions. So it's still fine and in fact it's recommended by many torrent sites as it's the last version before they "went over to the dark side".

    The biggest reason I'm using uTorrent except for the fack that it used to be the most lightweight torrent client is the fact that you can change the name of files and then just update the torrent with the new filname/path and it'll just do a hash check and continue seeding. I havn't found any other torrent clients with this functionality which is a shame because it's a useful feature not having to keep the original file names for as long as you want to seed.

    But yeah, like you said I would have prefered if it was open source, at least that way people could have kept supporting the 2.2.1 branch.
    I've tried Deluge and didn't like it, partially because it lacked previously mentioned functionality, maybe I'll try qBittorrent at some point.
  6. Ceewan

    Ceewan Famished

    I looked into it and a lot of people still use older versions of uttorent, the most popular one being 2.21. So I can't argue your choice even if I don't agree with it. There are a lot of pluses to Utorrent 2.21 and not a lot of minuses that are documented.

    from the Utorrent forum:
    There has been speculation that Utorrent 2.21 has vulnerabilities either concerning DHT or magnet links that allow someone to execute a malicious code. but I did not find any write ups on the vulnerability. Happy torrenting!
  7. Elldallan

    Elldallan Active Member

    If you find out anything more on that do let us know :)
    But I figure a few of the sites that lists 2.2.1 as their preferred client would blacklist it if any major security flaws were found.
    At least it's my perception that BakaBT etc. do keep regular tabs on these things, if for nothing else to maintain stability of the tracker.
  8. RootB

    RootB New Member

    Might as well switch to deluge.
  9. Ceewan

    Ceewan Famished

    utorrent long ago addressed this issue, they are stil the best in the business. Each to their own though.
  10. Elldallan

    Elldallan Active Member

    Which issue? if you mean the crypto miner? then yeah. But considering the huge backlash it'd be more surprising if they hadn't. But the reason they added it in the first place still remains(trying to monetize their "free" client) so it's just a matter of time before they try the next shady thing.
    I'm sceptic, just the fact that they tried it in the first place speaks volumes.

    But yeah if those 2.2.1 speculations becomes anything more than speculations I'll have to make a switch to something else :(
  11. SamKook

    SamKook Akiba Citizen Uploader

    Ever since they started bundling a lot of useless things for a torrent client in v3 and wanted money for it(even if there's still a free version), I stopped upgrading and eventually stopped using it altogether. I'm not one to make an effort to block ads to continue using a software when there's many good alternatives that are much less annoying.
    Trying to monetize a very popular software often ends poorly and this is a good example in my opinion.

    I switched to rtorrent since I could use it on my headless FreeBSD server which is ideal for me and I find qbittorrent to be quite satisfactory for my windows needs. It even has the rename function Elldallan talked about which I didn't know existed before now so thanks for that.
    Elldallan and Ceewan like this.
  12. Ceewan

    Ceewan Famished

    Well, I have to respect your opinion (it is easier because I respect you already), and competition is always a good to promote advancements in technology. Still, it is good to remember "why" utorrent does what they do. The main reason is good techs cost money. So in order to remain at the top (which I believe they are) they need to find a way to pay for a both increasing and well trained staff. This is not to say that there aren't decent alternatives but if you want a Coke, it sucks to have to settle for a generic brand. Utorrent is owned by Bittorrent Inc. and they know what there is to know about torrenting, hell they are responsible for the ongoing development of the bittorrent protocol. So I say, if you want a Coke, get a Coke. Know what I mean Vern?

    As far as the original thread here was concerned, that was a bit of an embarassment for Utorrent. Nor was it monetary based at all but a charitable program that a user had to agree to when they installed utorrent. It has long since been discontinued. Torrentfreak had an article or two on it.

    You do have a very good point about the ads but if you take into account the "why" I was willing to take a moment and disable them (which is an option that utorrent provides, it is not a hack in any way). Initially, I was a bit pissed off about it myself so I understand the reaction entirely. As far as taking any advice from Elldallan, well.....I guess on a rare occasion you can find useful tidbits in the most unlikely of places.
    SamKook likes this.
  13. SamKook

    SamKook Akiba Citizen Uploader

    To be fair, I didn't use it more than a few times at the beginning of v3 just to try it out so I can't really comment on how good it is(the included antivirus, media player, etc made me say I'd rather pay to not have those included please, so I stuck with the version that didn't have unnecessary stuff). I remember having to disable/remove a bunch of stuff but not the specifics. I'm sure it's very good at torrenting which is a good reason to use it but I'm not convinced it's the best even if it's backed by Bittorrent. I considered it better than the official bittorrent client(which had a pretty poor user interface if memory serves right, if it had one at all) before it was bought by them.

    I'll take a software made by one or a couple of people over one by a big company 9 times out of 10 since their focus is generally to make something they're passionate about so you'll get a more refined software with many options instead of something more restricted but easy to use that appeals to the general user. Most people like Coke, but you might find an homemade variation somewhere that appeals more to your personal taste.

    I tend to be a bit of an idealist about these kind of things which is why I tend to always pick the open source alternative if available.

    As for the original topic, it's a fairly common practice to include extra software which isn't that bad(but is quite annoying) since it can earn the developers a bit of money, but this one I consider worst than most since it drastically decrease your computer performance(the "idle" time tends to overlap the not so idle time) and increase your electricity bill. They should have had an ad for a separate software, not trying to trick some people into installing it which is what that is since many people know next to nothing about computers and only click yes to everything.
    It must have been a PR nightmare so I can imagine it didn't last long.
    Ceewan likes this.
  14. Elldallan

    Elldallan Active Member

    They were doing just fine as freeware before they were bought up by BitTorrent Inc. But yeah money drives just about everything.

    Past the original BitTorrent they haven't really been driving the development, much of the stuff that evolved the protocol such as DHT, encrypted headers, multitracker, web seeding etc came from others. What they are best at seems to be making a great lightweight client into a massive bloatware monster.

    It's been pretty well established that it only asked for permission occasionally, a significant percentage of users got it installed without getting even an opt-out choice. Also it's something that never should have been, so they deserve every piece of shit people throw at them for it, especially since they initially tried to deny that it even existed.

    That seems uncalled for, what's with the personal attack?