South Korean ISP infects 600,000 of its own customers with malware to curb torrent traffic

South Korean ISP decides to combat Torrent traffic by fighting fire with fire - that is, installing malware on 600,000 of its customers computers.

1 minute & 18 seconds read time

ISPs or Internet Service Providers are generally not the biggest fans of Torrent traffic on their networks. Popular peer-to-peer traffic accounts for a large percentage of all web traffic, with most Torrents relating to pirated copies of media - games, movies, music, and TV shows. Several ISPs worldwide have resorted to things like throttling or outright blocking specific port traffic to combat the nonstop flow of peer-to-peer data.

South Korean ISP infects 600,000 of its own customers with malware to curb torrent traffic 2

That's not the case for South Korean ISP KT, which created a new division to interfere with customer data transfers and distribute malware. Yes, an ISP deliberately infected 600,000 of its customers. KT Corporation is one of the largest telecommunication companies in the country, and this was only discovered after a lengthy investigation that began in 2020.

Webhard, a popular Korean cloud service and BitTorrent peer-to-peer file-sharing provider thought it was dealing with malicious hacking attempts when users began reporting issues. However, upon closer inspection, Webhard noticed that all affected users were KT customers.

Apparently, the malware created new folders, made files invisible, disabled Webhard and its services, and, in some cases, disabled the user's entire PC. The matter was taken to the police, who tracked the source to KT data centers. According to KT, it was a move to stop Torrent traffic, which it saw as malicious and harmful to its network. This is a little on the nose when you consider that malware that messes with PCs and makes them unusable sounds worse than downloading a lot of data.

Webhard's BitTorrent service Grid Service was the target, with KT noting that the sheer volume of data is putting a massive strain on its network. The kicker? Even though KT infected 600,000 of its customers with malware, the judiciary ruled in favor of KT because Webhard wasn't paying KT for network usage fees. This is ironic because that's the whole point of peer-to-peer traffic and BitTorrent; there's no need to pay for hosting.

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Kosta is a veteran gaming journalist that cut his teeth on well-respected Aussie publications like PC PowerPlay and HYPER back when articles were printed on paper. A lifelong gamer since the 8-bit Nintendo era, it was the CD-ROM-powered 90s that cemented his love for all things games and technology. From point-and-click adventure games to RTS games with full-motion video cut-scenes and FPS titles referred to as Doom clones. Genres he still loves to this day. Kosta is also a musician, releasing dreamy electronic jams under the name Kbit.

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