This past summer, nearly one third of 800 tested torrent websites served malware and users were 28 times more likely to get infected by downloading illegal files from a torrent site than visiting a legitimate content provider.
A new study by researchers at Digital Citizens Alliance and RiskIQ found user's machines being hit with malware between June and August of this year. Roughly 12 million internet users each month were infected when downloading material from torrent files from a sample of 800 torrent .
Experts estimated that the profit of this business amounted to more than $70 million (£46M) for the cyber-criminals. Most of the computers became infected from malicious ads which redirected victims to websites that stored malicious exploit kits.
Two percent of mainstream sites were discovered to be serving malware every month. Fifty-four percent of all malicious code was labeled as trojan and 29 percent as adware.
“When you visit mainstream sites, things are naturally happening without you clicking anything: pictures are being downloaded, ads are generating,” said Tom Galvin, executive director of Digital Citizens Alliance. “What's happening now is that users can click on one of these content sites and decide not to watch a movie, but the malware is already on their computer scraping for their social security number."