7 tips on staying safe when Torrenting

Research conducted last year revealed that popular shows like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Westworld, and Stranger Things, are an absolute feeding frenzy for malware.

Hackers wanting to infect people’s machines disguise malware, spyware, trojans - and other malicious programmes - as highly desirable torrents. We found that Game of Thrones torrents were the most infected, with 30,000 infected torrents discovered by Kaspersky Labs.

So, how do you navigate torrent sites safely?

Take a look at the tips below and stay safe when torrenting:

  1. The right seed?

    The easiest way to ensure you download what you really desire is to search for Torrents that are popular. If a torrent has a lot of seeders, it is highly likely to be the genuine article. 

  2. Check the comments!

    Checking the comments is an excellent idea; because people will generally praise a torrent that is worth your time. If peers are warning that a torrent contains malware or is dangerous - avoid it like the plague. 

  3. Install a good antivirus

    Having an up to date antivirus program that scans the files that you download in real time can quickly alert you to a problem. What’s more, a popular antivirus and anti-malware programme like Malwarebytes doesn't need to break the bank - and will protect you from accidentally downloading malicious software.

  4. Avoid certain file types 

    Certain file types are known to be more prone to viruses so stay away from them. Executable files, in particular, are something to watch out for. Here are the most common executable files to avoid when downloading video files from Torrent repositories:

    • .exe 

    • .bat

  5. Download the torrent to a sandboxed environment

    By downloading any torrent files you are interested in onto a Virtual Machine or sandbox (like Sandboxie), you can prevent them from doing any harm if they do contain a virus. Simply download the torrent onto your VM and then use VirusTotal to scan the file. If VirusTotal says the file is clean, you are fine to move it over onto your real machine.

  6. Join a private Torrent community

    Nowadays there are a number of well-known private torrenting communities, that are highly sought after. Getting an invitation to one isn’t always easy because many of them are one-in one-out (and once people join, they tend not to want to leave). However, if you do manage to get into a private community such as PassThePopcorn, IPTorrents, Demonoid, or Zeronet - you will be better able to trust the torrents.

    If you want to join a private torrenting community be active on Reddit, make friends, and find similarly minded people who are already members of the community you want to join. Stick around long enough and you might be considered cool enough to get an invitation.

  7. Use a VPN

    Once you are used to finding torrents that are legitimate, it is important to cover your tracks. Downloading content via P2P is illegal if you are downloading anything that is copyrighted. ISPs watch out for people with P2P traffic, and if you are discovered downloading something, you shouldn't you could be fined or even be cut off from the internet. 

    A VPN provides digital privacy so that you can BitTorrent without anybody finding out. To find out more please visit our 5 best Torrenting VPN services guide. 

Image credits: Robinotof/Shutterstock.com, 

Written by: Ray Walsh

Digital privacy expert with 5 years experience testing and reviewing VPNs. He's been quoted in The Express, The Times, The Washington Post, The Register, CNET & many more. Ray is currently rated #7 VPN and #8 internet privacy authority by Agilience.com.


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