Many users of the popular BitTorrent client μTorrent are complaining about it silently installing a cryptocurrency miner with a recent update. The Epic Scale tool, which slows down host computers, is reportedly being installed without consent and for some is particularly hard to remove.
Users of the software created a thread on the official µTorrent forum to complain about a high processor load when the computer is idle. The culprit was the program named Epic Scale, installed alongside µTorrent.
Epic Scale is a distributed computing client from a company that claims it wants to harness “unused processing power to change the world.” The website says that it uses the processors of machines with the software to solve “math problems for weather prediction, physics simulations, cryptography (including cryptocurrency mining) and more,” and this computation is monetized.
The application brings in revenue through in-app advertising and also presents users with “offers” to try out third-party software when installed or updated.These offers are usually not placed on users’ machines without consent, but this week many users began complaining about a “rogue” offer being silently installed.
Epic Scale is flagged by many anti-virus vendors. However, it has been included with μTorrent for several weeks already, without any significant complaints. However, starting this week many users reported that the software was installed without any notification.
The issue was also brought up at the μTorrent forums, but the initial thread was deleted by a moderator. Meanwhile, many more complaints started pouring in, mostly on the freefixer website.
The sudden increase in complaints over the past two days suggests that something went wrong with the install and update process. Several users specifically say that they were vigilant, but instead of a popup asking for permission the Epic Scale offer was added silently.
The Epic Scale team says that it’s investigating the issue. Despite being grilled by an angry mob, they’re offering assistance and a $20 Amazon gift card to affected users who provide additional details.
The silent install appears to happen selectively, and not on all machines. They had confirmation from various sides and with screenshots of every step of the install process where no Epic Scale screen appeared. In one case, the opt-out screen was eventually shown after several re-installs.
Note that Epic Scale does not uninstall clean, leaves most of the junk behind and sometimes doesn’t uninstall at all.
Just to illustrate how bad their uninstaller is, this is a screenshot from the uninstallation instructions
The correct answer to this is to commandline kill it.
taskkill /im epicscale.exe /f
This will kill all processes with that name.