100,000 Torrent Site Users Exposed in Massive Data Breach

Users of a popular, exclusive torrenting site have seen their data accidentally leaked online. Here's what you should know.

A popular torrenting site has become the latest victim of a high-profile data breach this year, after reports emerged suggesting a database featuring sensitive user information had leaked online.

The details of up to 100,000 World in HD (WiHD) users including site admins are thought to have been exposed in this way, including their email and IP addresses, usernames, passwords and more.

A specialist cybersecurity website made the discovery using the Elasticsearch engine. The news will be particularly worrying to anyone who used the site to download torrents, given some of the sketchy associations with the practice.

WiHD Users Data Leaked by Mistake

Researchers at Cybernews uncovered the leak, which was not the result of an intrusion by hackers but apparently oversight on the part of WiHD’s database security, likely due to a simple misconfiguration.

It’s worrying for the site’s users because, while torrenting is not illegal in and of itself, it’s widely known to be a popular way that pirated content is distributed on the internet. This is because torrents make it easy to share large files.

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World in HD is a private French torrent tracker that specializes in HD movies and TV shows. It prides itself on both its exclusivity of its community and the high quality of its content, which includes English language downloads as well as French ones.

Why Should WiHD Users Care?

The fact that WiHD users have seen their personal data leaked online is worrying however you slice it, but the threat is enhanced by the questionable legality of what they may or may not have been downloading.

As the researchers point out, the murkiness of the torrenting world means that any hackers who attained contact information for the tracker’s users would have a relatively easy time launching phishing attacks and trying to extort money.

“Threat actors could engage in various illicit activities, such as tracking and identifying users for legal repercussions, launching targeted phishing attacks, or potentially exposing users’ downloading habits, raising privacy and legal concerns for affected individuals,” commented the team that uncovered the breach.

How to Protect Your Personal Data Online

While we don’t condone any illegal online activity, torrenting or otherwise, we also believe netizens generally have a right to go about their business free from intimidation by hackers.

To this end, it’s always advisable to use a VPN – be the most secure VPNs or, alternatively, one of the best cheap VPNs – if you want to double-down on your data privacy.

This is because a VPN, or Virtual Private Network in full, encrypts your data connection with the internet and hides your actual IP address by routing it via a server in a different country. They’ve long been used by both businesses and consumers alike as an added layer of online security, and remain something we really can’t recommend highly enough.

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Written by:
James Laird is a technology journalist with 10+ years experience working on some of the world's biggest websites. These include TechRadar, Trusted Reviews, Lifehacker, Gizmodo and The Sun, as well as industry-specific titles such as ITProPortal. His particular areas of interest and expertise are cyber security, VPNs and general hardware.
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