Your computer and mobile devices store sensitive, personal information that hackers want to access. Account numbers, usernames, passwords, files, photos and emails are all targets. And the way hackers get to that information is by coaxing you into downloading their malware, which can give them an entrance to your computer or device.

It’s not easy for hackers to infect you when you download programs, apps and files from legitimate sources, because those sources have a major incentive to keep their products safe. They have reputations to protect. Sources that provide illicit or illegal downloads, however, don’t offer the same protections. This is the case for torrent websites.

Torrenting is a common way for people to illegally download pirated TV shows. Since hackers know this, they often disguise their malware as torrent episodes of the most popular television shows in an attempt to trick people into downloading them. One study found that 35% of BitTorrent files are fake, and that rather than delivering the desired product or content, they are linked to either malware or scam websites.

According to TorrentFreak, the most torrented show –and consequently riskiest torrent downloads— of 2019 were:

  • Game of Thrones
  • Chernobyl
  • The Mandalorian
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Vikings
  • The Walking Dead
  • The Flash
  • Rick and Morty
  • Supergirl
  • Arrow

The more popular the show, the more likely that a torrent file is going to contain malware rather than an episode of the show.  In addition, heavily anticipated episodes of popular show, such as the first or last of a season, are even more likely to be disguised malware.

Hackers are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to infect unsuspecting people with their malware. And those who illegally download pirated television are an easy, and often exploited, target.