uTorrent can steal your CPU cycles to mine bitcoins


uTorrent can steal your CPU cycles to mine bitcoins

If you’re a µTorrent user and you just updated to or installed the latest version, you may have gotten more than you bargained for. Your PC could be running a Bitcoin miner in the background without your knowledge.

Several µTorrent forums users have reported seeing their CPU usage jump sharply following the upgrade to version 3.4.2 build 28913. They were shocked when they investigated and discovered that it wasn’t the µTorrent app itself hogging the processor, but a piece of software called EpicScale — a Bitcoin mining app.

BitTorrent’s been experimenting with different ways to monetize µTorrent for years. You’ve probably grown accustomed to the banner ads by now, and they introduced a paid Pro alongside the free µTorrent app a while back. You’ve also no doubt seen a partner app or two pitched during the installation process.

It’s likely that BitTorrent decided to partner with EpicScale to generate a bit of additional recurring income from users of the free version of µTorrent. That’s all fine and dandy as long as users are given the chance to opt in (or at the very least opt out) from installing EpicScale, but folks didn’t recall being prompted.

Sneaking an app like EpicScale onto a user’s machine is a serious infraction. It’s one thing if you fail to read all the screens properly during the install and wind up with bloatware, but if you weren’t even given the option, well, that’s just plain shady.

BitTorrent replied later to the thread saying that they’d tested their installer and verified that EpicScale couldn’t be installed without user permission. I tested the install this morning, too: neither an upgrade nor a clean install pushed EpicScale onto my PC.

This may have simply been a screw-up by a distribution partner. Maybe someone at BitTorrent forgot to check a box somewhere? Whatever the case may be, the problem appears to be fixed for now. However, if you’re noticing your fan running a little loud, you might want to pop into add/remove programs and make sure that EpicScale didn’t sneak onto your system.


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