BitTorrent DNA – A *REALLY* Bad Idea

As part of my computer upgrades (see my other blog posts), I had made a list of the software installed on my old computer. I visited the various distribution sites and downloaded and installed the latest versions of everything.

While the new computer was sitting idle, I started getting popups from Spyware Doctor informing me that “Spyware Doctor has blocked access to a bad web site”. The threat listed was “Trojan.Storm_Spam_Server”. Now, I didn’t have any Internet Explorer windows open (in fact, nothing was running except the utilities I run at startup – which doesn’t include the BitTorrent client).

Doing some poking around with WinDump led me to the btdna.exe process in \Program Files\DNA. Oddly, this process couldn’t be killed from Task Manager – I had to rename the executable and reboot the PC.

Once I did that, the Spyware Doctor popups stopped. I proceeded to deinstall both BitTorrent and DNA from my system, and they won’t be coming back.

I’ve been a casual user of BitTorrent for quite some time, mostly for downloading things like FreeBSD distribution ISOs. But this new behavior is inexcusable, for a number of reasons:

  • The application starts without the user’s permission – even if the user selects to not run the BitTorrent client at startup, btdna starts.
  • There doesn’t seem to be any way to shut it down permanently without deinstalling it.
  • It is interacting with many known bad sites – who is going to vouch for the program’s security?
  • Why is it interacting with any sites at all? I never started a download or viewed any content that it could “accelerate”.
  • Why is it stored in \Program Files\DNA? Is this an attempt to conceal that it is related to BitTorrent?
  • Upon viewing the official BitTorrent DNA web site, they claim that this is an accelerator that content providers can purchase access to in order to shift the burden of delivering content onto viewers. Yet the end user isn’t informed that this is happening. This is good for the content providers and BitTorrent. What’s in it for the user? Particularly if the user pays per KB of data transferred through their ISP (as in the case of a mobile user with a wireless network card, for example).

All in all, this strikes me as a really bad idea. My suggestion is to deinstall the DNA service (Start / Control Panel / Add or Remove Programs / DNA should do it, but you might want to check your \Program Files\DNA directory after deinstalling, just in case). Depending on whether you’re as disturbed about this as I am, you might want to deinstall BitTorrent as well and look at a different Torrent client.

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