If you need another reason not to install bloated adware on your computer, you can add this one to the list. It has recently been brought to light that the latest version of utorrent secretly installs crypto-currency mining software without the user’s prior permission.
That’s right, in addition to being bombarded with advertisements for Russian brides your CPU could now be secretly recruited to mine the next XYZ altcoin. This development was so shocking, our staff quickly installed the latest version of utorrent to see for ourselves. The results were surprising…
Anyone who has installed utorrent over the past year is familiar with the process. The installer warns against paid versions, tries to turn you into a Beck fan, and then asks if you want to install whatever toolbar adware is being promoted that month.
At no point in time during the install is the user ever asked or warned about the installation of a program called EpicScale.exe. To the unsuspecting user, it would seem that utorrent is up and running as normal, right? At the time of this writing, the current utorrent installer did not feel it was necessary to notify us that it was in fact installing this new process:
Utorrent forum admin’s were quick to respond yesterday, stating, “We design our software to ensure that partner software downloads don’t occur without approval by the user. But given your report, we’ve also double-checked this particular offer, and have determined that it cannot be installed without user approval.”
Unfortunately, this statement is completely wrong. As of 3/6/2015 8am EST there is no indication or option given during install that would suggest one could deny installing this process. Instead, EpicScale.exe is up and running instantly as soon as utorrent launches, whether you like it or not. We encourage anyone from utorrent to post screenshots proving the user is given approval.
An Epic Fail on an Epic Scale
Secretly bundling crypto mining software in hopes of making it to the moon is nothing new. In late 2013 gaming software developer ESEA was fined 1 million dollars for secretly installing bitcoin mining software on player’s computers.
Why wouldn’t someone want to unknowingly devote 20% or more of system resources to an unknown cause? For starters, there is the whole doing it without your permission issue. Not to mention that many users only noticed the EpicScale riskware when the computer began running much slower than normal. This development is not only a major violation or user trust/privacy, but it could very well hinder your computer’s performance.
It is possible that this is a temporary error by utorrent developers and until an official statement is released we may not know the real cause. Even so, this is the type of error that will further drive users away from this client and seek open source alternatives.
UPDATE: It appears the error for many USA based IP addresses has been fixed, and the utorrent installer is now asking if you want to mine altcoins. And, the utorrent forum is down.
Bye Bye utorrent
Let it be known, TorGuard is officially advising not to install utorrent software. The app itself has been in a bloat ware infused downward spiral over the past year or so, and it just hit rock bottom. Luckily, there are some excellent alternatives like: Deluge, Vuze, qBittorrent, and Transmission. We highly suggest uninstalling utorrent immediately and switching to one these torrent clients right away. If you just uninstalled utorrent, this won’t get rid of EpicScale completely– you still need to delete all the contents of this hidden folder: C:\ProgramData\EpicScale