Torrents – Torrent Sites – Torrent Software

Torrents - Torrent Sites - Torrent Software

I’ve been asked numerous times about how to obtain Operating System (OS) software for free. Here’s how:

But First

Be forewarned, we are treading on morally and/or legally questionable ground here and taking advantage of this particular technology has the propensity to infect your machine with all kinds of ugly little beasts if you’re not careful.

In a classic application of the “Good News/Bad News” cliche, let’s explore…

The Good News

You’ll be able to download, install and enjoy almost any software, movie, music or other digital property for free. With few exceptions, I’ve found every application I could ever use, for Windows and Macintosh, and thousands upon thousands of movie titles, music albums, audio books, photographs, etc.

The good news is easy, next;

The Bad News

Legal

The nature of this type of technology is questionable. Many, namely the major movie studios, record companies and software distributors, consider it illegal.

The technology is peer-to-peer (P2P) and started with applications like Napster, Kazaa, Morpheus and Limewire. Bittorrent is considered the 3rd generation of P2P and is not only more efficient, but also more elusive from a legal standpoint.

Without getting into too much detail, when you install a bittorrent client, like Vuze, you enable the bittorrent protocol which allows you to download very large files from multiple sources simultaneously. The source of those files do not reside on a server, which would be copyright Vuze - Formerly Azureusinfringement, but rather on a network consisting of millions of personal computers.

When you initiate a download of a particular file, the protocol searches through the network of computers, locates the file, then downloads the file a small piece at a time from each computer in the network and reassembles them in order after the download has completed. The ambiguous nature of the download presents a challenge, legally, and while there are efforts to close this gap in the law, as of this writing nothing with teeth has come about.

(Please also keep in mind that much of the software downloaded requires serial numbers and activation. Very often the tools required to activate the software are provided with the files. Serial numbers and activation codes can be generated by programs called “Keygens” and files or programs called “Cracks” are also used to make the software fully functional.)

Moral

On the face it would seem obvious that downloading a movie you didn’t buy is wrong. But what about software and movies that you have purchased?

There was a time when Microsoft included full-install disks when you bought a computer with Windows installed. With Windows 95 you could install that OS on as many machines as you wanted. As greed and time progressed, less features were offered by the software behemoth, and now if you’re hard drive fails and you only want to replace that, you conceivably are forced to purchase another OS disk from Microsoft.

So the morality of P2P is subjective, and many industry techies not only endorse using it, many use it themselves.

Virus, Trojans, Questionable Material

The last caveat is the sites where torrents are available. They are often cluttered with ads for pornography and a good percentage of the files themselves are either infected with little nasties or are fake downloads to begin with.

Demonoid

DemonoidShould you decide to try this out, Demonoid is the safest place to do it. In the beginning you could only register on Fridays, but this seems to have loosened up a bit. Demonoid does not allow pornography, nor does it advertise pornographic sites or products. One really great feature about Demonoid is the comments sections.

Before you embark on a torrent download, read the comments section to see if it works, and whether or not there are any virus’ or trojans associated with the files.

Pirate Bay, Isohunt, Btjunkie

Pirate Bay has a rich history of scoffing at legal threats from the largest corporations in the world. Go HERE to read through the letters and responses, very funny stuff. Pirate Bay has lost some of it’s luster since the original owners sold the company to a Swedish software firm, but at least you don’t have to pay for the service.

Isohunt, Btjunkie and hundreds of other tracker sites is where you’re exposed to porno ads and a higher probability of infecting your machine with above mentioned nasties. To add insult to injury, many of these sites want you to buy a subscription so that essentially you are paying for what they got for free.

Summary

If I bought a computer with Windows installed on it and something happened that required I reinstall the Operating System, I am not given the proper tools to correct the problem. As we Windows users are well aware, updates, patches and security fixes are a regular part of our computing experience. It is also well known that the Windows OS gets messed up after regular use.

Since Microsoft admits, by insisting on constant updates, that their product is flawed, why do they not include a full install disk with your purchase?

The simple answer is that they don’t have to, because they monopolize the market. They force us to either re-purchase the OS or seek other means to obtain it. Installing Vuze and downloading the OS from Demonoid is one other way to obtain it.

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Internet Surfing Basics – Rules

Grown children are buying computers for their parents to improve communication. Many of the “long-in-tooth” crowd pick it right up. Others, not so much. This series is intended for the absolute beginner, but you might get something out of it too.

Overview

The internet continues to grow in importance in our daily lives. It offers us an opportunity to retrieve a seemingly infinite amount of information. Every dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia, news source and educational institution in the world is at your fingertips (literally). It has enabled immediacy in social communication and business applications. But it can also lead to hours of hair-pulling, expletive-bellowing frustration. This guide can serve as a quick resource for those times when your hair and your dignity are threatened. So, let’s get started:

RULE #1

SECURITY

Internet SecuritySafe surfing means having a basic understanding of what dangers exist and how they affect you. Viruses, spyware, malware and adware affect Microsoft Windows computers primarily. Hackers are indiscriminate, but the vast majority of hackers typically attempt to compromise Windows machines. Due to the architecture of Microsoft software and operating system, more opportunities exist for the hacker to exploit Windows, than in Linux machines or Macs.

The specific definitions of spyware, malware, et al; are unimportant. The idea is to know what to look for, avoid them when possible and/or remove them once they’ve landed on your computer. Avoiding them means knowing what not to click on, removing them is the practice of cleaning out your machine from time to time.

Some adware and spyware are unavoidable annoyances, but not much of a threat. Viruses, malware, key-loggers and rootkits on the other hand can pose a serious security risk. The repercussions of an infection from these little programs, which is what they are, can range from annoying and/or embarrassing pop-ups to the compromise of your bank accounts and all of your personal information. Notice I didn’t say “some” or “a little bit of.”

If that last sentence scared you, GOOD. The hackers still have the upper hand, but, that doesn’t mean you have to be afraid of surfing the internet. There are tools you can use and techniques you can employ to protect your privacy.

First Line of Defense:

Put a router in between your computer and your modem. Even if there’s only one computer in the house, a router is a hardware firewall which effectively anonymizes the ip address of your computer. Software firewalls, like the Windows Security Center, are easily compromised and highly ineffective.

To other computers, your computer is a series of numbers called an ip address. Each computer has a unique ip address, sort of like a fingerprint. The internet is really just a bunch of computers all connected together in a network. The network is made up of Servers and Clients. Servers direct all the traffic, track and log activity and store information. Clients are users, like you.

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When you open a browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari, etc) you make a call or a request to a Server, which is typically your Internet Service Provider or ISP. The Server sends your request to it’s intended destination which is usually a website that resides on a Server somewhere else. Your identifier, in the form of your ip address is stored on every server you visit and are directed to, and through.

Hacker Exploits

When one of these bad programs or a hacker obtains the ip address of your actual computer it/they begin a series of searches for what’s called open ports. Your computer has over 10,000 ports that are used by different programs on your computer for a variety of functions, but most often they are used as a portal for a specific program to communicate with other components via the internet or network.

Hackers, both white-hat (good guys, right) and black-hat, have found vulnerabilities in the code used to actuate these processes and have developed what are called exploits to attempt to break in or compromise a computer system.

That’s one reason Microsoft regularly sends out updates. Updates many times are patches or fixes to their own code which repair the vulnerabilities. That’s why anyone in IT recommends updating your system regularly.

Your Router is the Gatekeeper

The benefit of putting a router between your computer and your modem, is that a router adopts the ip address and basically becomes the gatekeeper between you and the internet. A router is a small computer that only runs one program, typically utilizing the Linux OS, which is extremely difficult to hack if not impossible.

Therefore, hacker exploits are stopped at the gate as it were, unless you inadvertently let them in by clicking on the wrong link.

Just Say No To Pop-ups

If you see a pop-up that you weren’t expecting, close it. On my FREE Guide to Internet Security, I show several examples of fake system messages. Unfortunately, the bad guys have gotten good at replicating actual websites and system messages. If you are unsure, Google can be your best friend. Look at the message and either write down the contents of the message or open up a separate browser tab or window and do a Google search based on the message. Please read my FREE Guide for more info.

Impostor Links/Sites

Another point of entry is through email and Impostor Links. Impostor links lead to Impostor sites which look exactly like Bank, Credit Card, etc sites, but are clones whose sole intent is to get your information.

One way to check whether or not a link is an imposter is to place your mouse pointer over the link, without clicking on it and look at the web address in the bottom left-hand corner of your browser window as illustrated below.

click on pic to enlarge

Web site link in left-hand corner

By looking at the link you can find clues as to whether or not the link is real. For instance, most websites in the US end in .com, .net, .org, .biz or .info. Below are some examples:

  • http://www.bankofamerica.com – (real link to real site)
  • http://de.bankofamerica.com – (fake)
  • http://www.bankofamerica.de.com – (fake)
  • http://www.bankofamerica.com.ru – (fake)
  • http://www.bankofamerica.info.ru.com – (fake)

ISP spam, virus and phishing filters have improved, but every now and then something will slip through and it pays, literally to be on the safe side.

I hope this first installment has been helpful. Please don’t hesitate to comment, critique or contact me with any questions.

peace, out.

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FREE Guide to Internet Security

Is your computer running slow? Don’t pay for a solution when you can get it for FREE!

FREE Guide to Internet SecuritySimply put, almost every program you install on a Windows Computer requires Root Access. Root access enables spyware, malware, adware, viruses, root-kits and more to take control of parts or all of your Windows Computer System. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are a number of free programs you can install to protect yourself (or rather your poor unsuspecting computer) in the increasingly shark-infested virtual ocean waters we call the internet. But first:

Watch Where You’re Going!

The first line of defense is proper net surfing habits. Don’t click on flashy, thingy, “you’re the winner”, types of links. They are intended for idiots and you don’t fall into that category. Don’t open any attachments on emails from email addresses you don’t recognize. If you use Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express, I recommend turning the “Reading Pane” off. The bad guys are able to initiate malicious code in image files by simply displaying the image on your computer. The “Reading Pane” opens the image, and viola, you’ve just been infected. Also, pay attention to links in emails. Bad guys will change one letter or add a .de or something similar in a familiar looking link to trick you into clicking on it. When you mouse-over the link in Firefox, the link address is displayed in the bottom left corner of the browser, just take a look before moving forward. The next thing to look out for is FAKE system alerts. Watch out pop-ups that look like the following:

Fake System Warning – Pop up

Fake System Warning

Fake Spyware Warning

Fake Spyware Alert

Fake Critical Error Message

Fake Critical Error Message

Fake Internet Explorer Warning

Fake Internet Explorer Warning

Fake Infection Notice

Fake Infection Notice

Fake Spyware Ads

Fake Spyware Ads

People have gotten really good at FAKING system error messages and behavior. They trick you into believing you have some sort of infection, then offer a link to remove it. What they actually do is infect your system even more. Fortunately there are a number of free resources available to protect you.

FREE Resources

1. Spybot Search and Destroy – (download link)

Spybot has offered their excellent FREE anti-spyware software since 2000. I recommend this every time because it’s still the best. It is constantly updated and one of the premiere products of this type. It takes a few minutes to download and install, but has many features to keep the bad guys out. Here’s a few features:

Feature Default
mode
Advanced
mode
Removal of adware and spyware
Removal of dialers

Removal of keyloggers

Removal of trojans and other baddies

Removal of usage tracks

Yes Yes
User-extendable database Yes Yes
Save removal of threats by shredding them Yes Yes
Backups of every removed problem Yes Yes
Exclude option to ignore specific problems Yes (1) Yes
Permanent blocking of threatening ActiveX downloads

Permanent blocking of known tracking cookies for IE

Permanent blocking of threating downloads in IE

Yes Yes
Command line parameters to automate tasks Yes Yes
Number of targets > 600 > 600
Number of detection files and entries > 10000 > 10000
Detailed information about problems found Yes Yes
Strict criteria to define targets Yes Yes
Integrated update function

Weekly updates

Update notification by mail

Yes Yes
Free email & forum support Yes Yes
Settings to automate scan, removal and update No Yes
System reports to locate even unknown threats No Yes
Skins to adjust interface to the users liking No Yes
2. Ad-Aware from Lavasoft – (download link)

No spyware, malware, virus removal software is all inclusive. I don’t care what their ads say. Ad-Aware from Lavasoft is the perfect accompaniment to Spybot. Between the two of them, you catch most of the junk out there. Here are a few more features from the Lavasoft site:

  • Improved Threat Detection
    • Spyware, Adware, Trojans & Hijackers
    • Fraud Tools & Rogue Applications
    • Password Stealers & Keyloggers
  • Enhanced Rootkit removal system
  • Faster Updates & Faster Scans
  • Less Resource Usage for optimal computer performance
  • Easy to Download, Install and Use
  • Lavasoft ThreatWork submission tool
  • Compatible with Windows Vista (32- and 64-bit)
  • Supported Languages: Dutch, English, Flemish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish
3. AVG – Antivirus – (download link)

AVG is another tried and true FREE Anti-virus software package that is constantly updated and protects you against many of the nastiest bits of code prowling the net. A little more about AVG:

  • Automatic update functionality
  • The AVG Resident Shield, which provides real-time protection as files are opened and programs are run
  • The AVG E-mail Scanner, which protects your e-mail
  • The AVG On-Demand Scanner, which allows the user to perform scheduled and manual tests
  • Free Virus Database Updates for the lifetime of the product
  • AVG Virus Vault for safe handling of infected files

These three are a great start, however I will warn you that almost any anti-spyware, anti-virus, etc., will have an effect on system performance. Things will slowdown a little. Each of these programs attempt to catch the rogue code before it makes onto your hard drive. That means there are millisecond delays before pages load, emails appear, etc. so that’s the trade off. Paid for versions by Norton, McAfee and other are no better, in fact in most cases they are worse.

If you’re a pretty safe surfer and you don’t want to bog your machine down with a bunch of software than there are FREE online Scan alternatives. I refer all my friends to these:

TrendMicro – is a FREE online virus scanner. It’s completely trustworthy, effective and up-to-date.

Panda ActiveScan – is another great FREE online scanner.

A couple other safeguards are switching to Mozilla’s Firefox browser instead of Internet Explorer. Firefox has a number of builtin safety factors that IE is trying to implement, but just doesn’t do as well.

I hope this was helpful. Any comments are welcome of course.

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