Please Be Careful With Torrents & File SharingSubmitted by Duane Vick on Sun, 03/17/2013 - 01:48
Someone I know is in legal trouble now and had a search warrant executed at his home because of files on his computer. I'm not going to discuss the specific circumstances but I know the person well enough to say that the files were not intentionally downloaded, given the nature of the content of the files. However, he is a person who frequents file sharing sites and torrent sites. It is because he downloads a lot of torrents, etc., that I believe he ended up in possession of files that got him in criminal hot water.
If you download a file and it doesn't behave as expected, such as it appears to be a corrupt download, I strongly recommend you delete it and overwrite that sector of your hard drive. Ultimately, with peer-to-peer networks, you are transferring files from another person's computer directly. You are placing trust in a stranger that the file you are getting isn't something that can land you in hot water. I'm not talking about piracy, I'm talking about things much worse to have on your computer. So, if you download something and it isn't what it appears to be or doesn't behave correctly, it is possible that someone renamed the file extension to conceal it's true contents. So, if you download it and it isn't behaving right, delete it and overwrite that section of your hard drive. Remember this, deleting a file that is in the recycle bin doesn't delete it. It simply marks that file's location on your hard drive as okay to overwrite. It isn't really gone until that overwrite happens. That means you need to, at a minimum, to overwrite it yourself. There are programs that do that for you by overwriting the deleted file with garbage blocks of data on that section of the hard drive. I don't know enough about computers to say that a program that overwrites hard drives is sufficient enough, considering what crime labs are capable of.
I wish I could elaborate more on my friend's situation but suffice it to say that we have already lawyered up to the tune of $5,000. He's not guilty of what the search warrant was intending to find on his computer. I just think he's a bit of an idiot with computers and didn't realize the potential impact of problem files that are transferred peer-to-peer.