Whether you use uTorrent to legally download content or for purposes that would fall under the “other” category, beware, the latest update comes with a piece of software that will convert your PC into a Bitcoin miner.
During the install process of some popular free apps, the installer may try to trick you into installing third-party software that you want nothing to do with. As is reportedly the case with uTorrent (version 3.4.2 specifically) which includes a Bitcoin mining software called Epic Scale. This application would then connect your computer to a Bitcoin farm, using up the PC’s CPU cycles to do the processing. As a result, the PC would slow to a crawl under use with high levels of heat and power consumption being the side effects.
Upon users filing reports, uTorrent support confirmed that Epic Scale cannot be installed without user consent and can be uninstalled easily, however further reports from the uTorrent forums suggest otherwise. Some users complained that the application doesn’t show up in the Programs and Features uninstall list, while others said that they were required to use anti-adware software to get rid of it completely. Epic Scale on the other hand confirmed that while the app can be uninstalled, it does leave registry keys behind.
(You may be inclined to hit 'Accept Offer' as you rush through the install process, but you really need to be declining it instead)
Third-party software is typically bundled with free applications in order to generate a source of revenue, and uTorrent parent company BitTorrent said that Epic Scale is a “great partner” to fund its efforts. However, you can rest assured that while Epic Scale does stress your PC resources, it in no way compromises any personal information that your PC may hold. According to Engadget, most anti-virus companies confirmed that the software isn’t dangerous.
Earlier this year, PC-maker Lenovo got itself into a PR nightmare over pre-installed software called Superfish. The whole debacle certainly put people on edge over the potential threats that hidden software poses. Thankfully Epic Scale isn’t as big of threat and it is unlikely for Microsoft to forcefully have it removed via Windows Defender as it did with Superfish.
(Not all bundled software is bad, but we recommend you always download and install apps from their official websites)
In the future, just to be safe, always take the time to carefully assess each section of an installer before you hit ‘next’ so you don’t end up installing something you may regret later. And if you install a lot of applications regularly, make it a habit of regularly checking your list of installed applications just in case you may have mistakenly let something through.