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uTorrent, one of the most popular BitTorrent clients on the web, isn't really any different from most other free software on the web. It earns revenue through in-app advertising and also presents users with special offers to try third-party software.
These offers are usually opt-in but as of a few days ago, that no longer appears to be the case.
uTorrent has been pushing a program called Epic Scale for several weeks now, again, as an opt-in. Here lately, however, complaints suggest uTorrent has been installing the cryptocurrency mining program silently in the background.
As you likely know, mining most cryptocurrency using a computer's CPU or graphics card isn't exactly efficient. That's why serious miners have long since moved to application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) miners - a type of hardware whose only purpose is to mine cryptocurrency.
If you have hundreds of thousands of computers mining away using standard hardware, however, you could still stand to make a pretty penny which appears to be what is happening here.
Several users have complained about the issue online, and rightfully so. Running a program like Epic Scale that puts such a heavy load on hardware for extended periods of time is a recipe for disaster without the right type of cooling. Even then, you run the real risk of shortening the life of your hardware.
It's one thing to install risky software on your system for personal gain; it's quite another to have someone else take advantage of the life and well-being of your system with no payout in return.
By the way, TechSpot now marks adware-style software with a warning in our download section.
Epic Scale appears to be handling the matter professionally, offering assistance and a $20 Amazon gift card for those affected that provide details on the matter. BitTorrent, uTorrent's parent company, denies any wrongdoing and said there are no silent installations taking place. Torrent Freak has since confirmed that the silent install appears to be happening randomly or selectively.