Most internet users are familiar with torrents. Torrents deliver all sorts of free (legal and illegal) content to people all over the world. And week after week, Game of Thrones episodes are at the top of the ‘most-downloaded’ torrents charts.
Just how popular is Game of Thrones? Last week, Torrent Freak reported that the first episode of Season 3 was “the most pirated file of all time.” That’s quite an accomplishment – especially since it’s only a few weeks old. The file was downloaded one million times in a single day and had 160,000 peers on Bit Torrent.
Unfortunately for those who are seeking to pirate the famous HBO series, Game of Thrones torrents aren’t as safe as you might think. Virus creators have taken note of the popularity of Game of Thrones and have started releasing infected files onto Bit Torrent.
How Bit Torrent viruses work
Virus creators see people downloading a popular show like Game of Thrones. Then, they create a virus and release it onto Bit Torrent with a title like “Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 1.” In many cases, the virus creators will release this file the day an episode is supposed to air.
So on Sunday morning when you’re getting excited for the brand new Game of Thrones episode that night, you can turn on Bit Torrent and download that episode. Unfortunately for you, that episode is fake and you just downloaded a virus. If you run the file or open it, your computer will instantly be infected.
Fortunately, it’s basically impossible to infect a movie file – like an .avi file. For that reason, if you only download the movie file in your next torrent, you’re going to be all right.
How to avoid downloading a virus on Bit Torrent
Whether you’re pirating Game of Thrones or downloading any other file off Bit Torrent, there are some important guidelines to follow to ensure you’re not getting a virus. Those guidelines include:
-Only downloading the exact file you need from a torrent: In BitTorrent clients like uTorrent, you can choose which files you want to download. Instead of downloading the .txt files and other junk files that often accompany a torrent, just download the .mp3, .avi, or whatever specific file you want to download.
-Don’t download .rars: Unless you’re absolutely sure that a torrent is safe, stay far away from .rar files. .rars are often laced with viruses, and all it takes is a simple extraction for a virus to take over your system. You never know what’s hiding inside a .rar file when you download it from Bit Torrent. If you absolutely must download a .rar file, read through the comments and ensure that people have had a good experience with the torrent. But remember: even that isn’t a guarantee.
-Only download popular torrents: The most-downloaded Game of Thrones episode likely won’t contain malware. Why? Because it’s being downloaded by hundreds of thousands of people around the world, and the comments section would be flooded with complaints if there were malware inside. For that reason, the most popular torrents are significantly safer than torrents with just a handful of seeders and leechers. No type of torrent is 100% safe, but by sticking to the most popular torrent, you can protect your computer from viruses that much more effectively.
-Run your security software when downloading from Bit Torrent
-Don’t download at all
If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is: Don’t be lured in by the false promises offered by hackers. No, you can’t get the entire Season 3 of Game of Thrones before it’s aired, so don’t try.
Look at the size of the torrent: Standard definition movie files are generally between 700MB to 1GB in size. HD movies can be 2GB to 10GB in size. Know the approximate size of the file you want to download – if you see a movie file that’s only a few kB in size, then it’s most likely a virus.
Note: Fix My PC Free does not condone piracy. We do, however, condone keeping computer users safe. Be careful out there and don’t download anything illegal. And remember: if you already downloaded a virus, scan your PC with PC Cleaner Pro today.