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Torrent box on old PC running WinXP with no antivirus, safe?


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#1 Locobox

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 03:36 PM

Hi everyone!

I have a really old PC (IBM Aptiva 2137, CPU:AMD K6 300MHz, 160MBs of RAM and 250GBs HDD) I want to turn this PC into a dedicated torrent box and nothing else.

Inside of this machine there is no other thing than the motherboard, power supply, LAN adapter and a 250GBs HDD, all running under Windows XP Pro 32 +SP3.

Because of physical RAM restrictions, I've no antivirus nor antispyware on this PC, the only security is the windows firewall and nothing more!.

Note That I won't be using this machine for websurfing or installing/testing any other apps than uTorrent and a simple VNC app to manage it remotely.

Only torrenting nothing else!


QUESTION:
Is there any chance that this computer could get INFECTED by any virus, malware, spyware if this PC is only connected to download Torrent files???

Keep in mind that the downloaded torrents won't be executed or extracted and installed on this machine.

Thanks in advance for your reponses.

Edited by Locobox, 12 July 2011 - 03:37 PM.


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#2 Blade

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 04:29 PM

Could it be infected? Absolutely.

Is it extremely likely given the conditions you've established? Not really.

Obligatory disclaimer for P2P Apps follows.

As the name(s) suggest(s), these programs allow users to share files with each other. In today's world cyber crime has come to an enormous dimension and any means is used to infect personal computers to make use of their stored data or machine power for further propagation of the malware files. A popular means is the use of file-sharing tools as a tremendous amount of prospective victims can be reached through it.

It is therefore possible to be infected by downloading manipulated files via peer-to-peer tools and thus suggested to be used with intense care. Some further readings on this subject, along the included links, are as follows: "File-Sharing, otherwise known as Peer To Peer" and "Risks of File-Sharing Technology."

It is also important to note that sharing entertainment files and proprietary software infringes the copyright laws in many countries over the world and you are putting yourself at risk of being indicted through organisations watching over the rights of the authors of such files (i.e. the RIAA for music files, or the MPAA for movie files in the USA) or the authors of the files themselves.

Naturally there are also legal ways to use these services, such as downloading Linux distributions or office suites such as "Open Office."

Hope that helps,

~Blade

Edited by Blade Zephon, 12 July 2011 - 04:29 PM.

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#3 Locobox

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 07:16 PM

Very interesting response!

As for the computer power and data on this PC I could not care less, I mean the CPU barely manages the load and the data on the HDD well just Torrent files!!! my main concern is the 8MB/S download speed I got, it is my understanding that most malware and virus activity these days are focused on using your internet bandwidth to send spam (Making your PC part of a bot net), I dont want that to happen, to avoid that I constantly monitor the connection speed on the PC on IDLE so I can be 99% sure there's no unwanted traffic.

Besides that what can I do to avoid any posible problems?

Many thanks for the links, there was a lot I wasnt aware of!

#4 Blade

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 07:46 PM

Honestly you'd be much better off putting an AV like MSE or Avast! on there. They have relatively small footprints.

Beyond that there's not much.

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#5 Locobox

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 10:51 PM

Thanks Blade, some user told me that he uses a registry freezer (like deep freeze) to well freeze the registry and avoid both viruses and malware, in the case of suspicious activity he just reseted the PC and the original registry will be intact. another user told me to rely on on-line antivirus services and run them from the browser from time to time to save some system RAM and resources.

What you think of that is all that possible?

Many thanks for your responses.

#6 midou1994

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 11:58 PM

Am not sure but Microsoft also has something similar to deep freeze,dono if its built into windows 7 ultimate...



Deep freeze undo all system changes a lot of cyber cafe have this..


It takes a very long time to boot the system

From my knowledge if your system is hit by a threat then everything will be undone only in the next restart....

Sending spam mails using the PC could be done even with deep freeze installed....(Not sure,frozen state is restored at next restart so the threat will be in the system till then)




using a Guest account while running utorrent rather than Administrator account would also prevent malware issues


Win Patrol is an extremely light application it monitors system changes so it may help as well,


why not give linux a go??

I had an old HP system P3 800 Mhz with 256 Mb Ram with an old Ubuntu distribution I guess 7.10...


Works fine Transmission is their to handle torrents No antivirus required.....

Edited by midou1994, 13 July 2011 - 12:02 AM.

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#7 Didier Stevens

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Posted 13 July 2011 - 05:28 AM

QUESTION:
Is there any chance that this computer could get INFECTED by any virus, malware, spyware if this PC is only connected to download Torrent files???

Keep in mind that the downloaded torrents won't be executed or extracted and installed on this machine.


Yes, it's still possible for your machine to become infected. There are several vectors:

1) the machine gets infected by another infected machine on your local network
2) the machine gets infected by an exploit that uses a vulnerability in the torrent software you use
3) the machine gets infected by an infected file you download that executes automatically via a vulnerability in Windows Explorer
4) the machine gets infected via a USB drive you plug into the machine to transfer the downloaded files

Didier Stevens
http://blog.DidierStevens.com
http://DidierStevensLabs.com

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#8 Didier Stevens

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Posted 13 July 2011 - 05:31 AM

Besides that what can I do to avoid any posible problems?


There are several actions you can take to protect this machine, apart from installing AV.

1) keep your machine and the installed programs patched
2) use a host firewall
3) run with a Least Privilege User account (non-admin)

Didier Stevens
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#9 Didier Stevens

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Posted 13 July 2011 - 05:34 AM

Thanks Blade, some user told me that he uses a registry freezer (like deep freeze) to well freeze the registry and avoid both viruses and malware, in the case of suspicious activity he just reseted the PC and the original registry will be intact.


There is a discontinued Microsoft product for this: Windows SteadyState.
It's not only registry, but also file system.
So you need to backup your downloaded files before reverting to a previous state.
And of course, it's not a preventive measure, it only helps you with cleaning up an infection, it doesn't prevent you from getting infected.

Didier Stevens
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http://DidierStevensLabs.com

SANS ISC Senior Handler
Microsoft MVP 2011-2016 Consumer Security, Windows Insider MVP 2016-2019
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If you send me messages, per Bleeping Computer's Forum policy, I will not engage in a conversation, but try to answer your question in the relevant forum post. If you don't want this, don't send me messages.

 

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