Google Chrome users trying to access Kickass Torrents and other piracy sites via Google's search results are instead being sent to a bright red page warning them that the site ahead is dangerous to visit. The new measure is part of Google's SafeBrowsing initiative, which scours for websites that might contain harmful material, although the change seemed to be news to the piracy sites themselves.
Googling “Kickass Torrents,” one of the most popular websites in the world where visitors can download Hollywood movies for free (and illegally) often before they come out of theaters, turns up the site's Wikipedia, Twitter page and various piracy-related articles. But Google's Chrome browser appears to have ranked the actual site lower in its search rankings, and visitors who click the page are instead shown a “This site contains harmful programs” warning.
RARBG and ExtraTorrent, influential piracy sites that have no affiliation with Kickass, were also subjected to warnings before returning to normal days later, TorrentFreak reported. Kickass Torrents also appears to have been rendered inaccessible for some Firefox users, who complained on Twitter.
“There is no malicious software and you are still able to load ExtraTorrent in Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Cromium and other browsers,” ExtraTorrent administrators told TorrentFreak before the block was removed.
What's more likely is that Google's sensors detected malicious software embedded in the ads on each site. Even the biggest piracy sites make money by selling ad space along their margins, and the already precarious state of legality has made it possible for shady advertisers to buy space there. Multiple studes have already shown that ads on the Pirate Bay, for example, directed visitors to phishing links and other sites infused with malware.
“We recently expanded our efforts in Chrome, Search and ads to keep you safer from sites where these nefarious download are available,” Google explained in its Online Security blog post earlier this year. “If you're a site owner, we recommend that you register your site with Google Webmaster Tools. This will help you stay informed when we find something on your sites that leads people to download unwanted software, and will provide you with helpful tips to resolve such issues.”