A number of mainstream web browsers have reportedly started to block direct access to popular peer-to-peer file-sharing website KickassTorrents (KAT), branding it a phishing threat that may compromise users' computers.
On 12 April, a number of concerned users on social media started to complain about the lack of access, which has since been acknowledged by the administrators of the torrent website. Instead of being greeted with the usual homepage, eager file-sharers have reportedly been encountering block screens alongside security warnings, according to TorrentFreak.
The warning reported by some Google Chrome users states: "Deceptive site ahead: Attackers on kat.cr may trick you into doing something dangerous like installing software or revealing your personal information." Meanwhile, Firefox informs users access to the website has been shut off as it could lead to fraud and malicious infections. "Web forgeries are designed to trick you into revealing personal or financial information by imitating sources you may trust. Entering any information on this web page may result in identity theft or other fraud," the browser notes.
According to TorrentFreak, the administrators have acknowledged the issue and are now working to restore access. "We've reported [the issue] to Google and [are] expecting this security alert soon to be lifted," the KAT team said in a statement. Of course, budding internet pirates are likely to be able to circumvent a number of these restrictions with the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) or with the use of proxies.
The issue is likely related to Google's recent move to ban what it deems as 'deceptive' download buttons on Google Safe Browsing. The firm announced plans on 3 February this year that aimed to cut down on social engineering and malicious links embedded into webpages. KickassTorrents, like most P2P websites, frequently features such buttons.
Google Safe Browsing is a form of internet-based blacklist which is relied upon by the Chrome, Safari and Firefox browsers to check for potential malware or phishing threats, which would also explain why every service has started to block KAT at once. IBTimes UK contacted Google for comment, but had received no response at the time of publication.
Have you been hit with the browser ban? Sound off in the comments below or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (@Jason_A_Murdock)