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Kenneth G. Hartman

Security Consultant,  
Forensic Analyst & 
Certified SANS Instructor

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Lately, I have been doing some analysis of BitTorrent Descriptor Files, or “metainfo” files as the BitTorrent Protocol Specification calls them. One could simply open the *.torrent file in a text editor. If that is done, you would see something like:

d8:announce44:udp:// by14:uTorrent/3.4.213:creation datei1420935116e8:encoding5:UTF-84:infod5:filesld6:lengthi37330e4:pathl52:7 All previous animal species speeds in one list.pdfeed6:lengthi34436e4:pathl43:2 List of mammal species running speeds.pdfeed6:lengthi30210e4:pathl40:4 List of bird species flight speeds.pdfeed6:lengthi29518e4:pathl8:info.pdfeed6:lengthi28882e4:pathl42:5 List of fish species swimming speeds.pdfeed6:lengthi28811e4:pathl31:Special human running speed.pdfeed6:lengthi26834e4:pathl33:6 List of other animal speeds.pdfeed6:lengthi26418e4:pathl26:Extra 2 homing pigeons.pdfeed6:lengthi26149e4:pathl44:3 List of reptile species running speeds.pdfeed6:lengthi25297e4:pathl17:1 information.pdfeed6:lengthi22476e4:pathl35:Extra 1 the fastest land animal.pdfeed6:lengthi2268e4:pathl52:7 All previous animal species speeds in one list.txteed6:lengthi1195e4:pathl43:2 List of mammal species running speeds.txteed6:lengthi488e4:pathl17:1 information.txteed6:lengthi420e4:pathl42:5 List of fish species swimming speeds.txteed6:lengthi378e4:pathl40:4 List of bird species flight speeds.txteed6:lengthi365e4:pathl31:Special human running speed.txteed6:lengthi319e4:pathl26:Extra 2 homing pigeons.txteed6:lengthi293e4:pathl8:info.txteed6:lengthi276e4:pathl44:3 List of reptile species running speeds.txteed6:lengthi229e4:pathl33:6 List of other animal speeds.txteed6:lengthi117e4:pathl35:Extra 1 the fastest land animal.txteee4:name65:List of animal speeds (mammals, reptiles, birds and fish species)12:piece lengthi16384e6:pieces400:…7°ºp½mhÉ14Û]à«@N]@žF˜†?Œ—W^ö=¬4ñ5R8ÿó”œuä| À¨„)¥¬H˜qa…0¡»ˆ«Ã9Zû³×Üï>
¨$C°>ØÔ”½†î:f–o¤ñü0„ݳq({Øi­Å'£§ÕRñ©ø·“é@{§Æh¶ˬýØdŽÏØùèÄ‘cÿ¹ctj^-ŸH/“Q®àÕ§Teýœ<ò%CßV"%&÷—7ùXgÿ´Fó/7„€”8ß
dHÙnP:°c,ð=Û™>ãbÎüóÜrƃO¢îêÙºÐräçÓ<Ô¨™^ö{y%F+ýÚ»K	–öÅŽŸ\сÇÈ4g¿°Á»Ɉ+”±W¡œBxþü‚oˆ“•¡å‰T msÙ„ª~b,Ò¤	ˆ.B¡„…Xœ?æð†¶Wjuˏif‹¿yº¹­øú¦¢³¥Ù#Q’Ã馋ç'æÜŧþà|IM/ã*Ò0Þ%9½R:®ee

The first part of the file is “almost readable.” The file is “bencoded” and uses epoch dates, but one can tell the names of the files in the torrent descriptor. The end of the file contains a SHA1 hash of each of the pieces and it looks garbled because text editors cannot properly represent all possible bytes as a printable character.

Remember that per the specification, BitTorrent breaks the collection of file files referred to by the metainfo file into a number of smaller pieces of the same size so that the swarm can share the work of distributing them. Don’t confuse the files referenced by the torrent descriptor file as a piece. The files are all concatenated together and then divided up into uniform sized pieces.

A SHA1 Hash is 20 bytes long, so the end of a *.torrent file is an array of SHA1 hashes such the first 20 bytes are the SHA1 hash of piece 0, and the next 20 bytes correspond to the hash for piece 1, and so on.

To help understand the data contained in a metainfo file, I created a python script called “” It can be found on Github, here:

The program generates HTML output. Using the above example, the output would look as follows:

Beginning of sample output

Torrent Descriptor File Details

* Denotes an optional field in the Torrent Descriptor File. As a result it may be blank. Refer to the BitTorrent Specification.

Meta Data

torrent filename test.torrent
infohash 634a9cfcf056dcdb9bf673663f720197f52cd177
announce udp://
announce-list* udp:// udp:// udp://
creation date* (epoch time) 1420935116 (2015-01-10 16:11:56)
created by* uTorrent/3.4.2
encoding* UTF-8
piece length (bytes) 16384 (16K)

Calculated Data

type of torrent multiple file torrent
number of pieces 20
length of last piece (bytes) 4971 (4K)
last piece as % of piece length 30.3%
size of torrent (bytes) 322709 (315K)

NOTE: the length of last piece is calculated as: (number of pieces X piece length) - size of torrent

This Torrent Descriptor has the following file paths:

File Path Length md5sum*
7 All previous animal species speeds in one list.pdf 37330
2 List of mammal species running speeds.pdf 34436
4 List of bird species flight speeds.pdf 30210
info.pdf 29518
5 List of fish species swimming speeds.pdf 28882
Special human running speed.pdf 28811
6 List of other animal speeds.pdf 26834
Extra 2 homing pigeons.pdf 26418
3 List of reptile species running speeds.pdf 26149
1 information.pdf 25297
Extra 1 the fastest land animal.pdf 22476
7 All previous animal species speeds in one list.txt 2268
2 List of mammal species running speeds.txt 1195
1 information.txt 488
5 List of fish species swimming speeds.txt 420
4 List of bird species flight speeds.txt 378
Special human running speed.txt 365
Extra 2 homing pigeons.txt 319
info.txt 293
3 List of reptile species running speeds.txt 276
6 List of other animal speeds.txt 229
Extra 1 the fastest land animal.txt 117

This Torrent Descriptor has the following SHA1 Hashes for each piece, respectively:

NOTE PER THE SPEC: “For the purposes of piece boundaries in the multi-file case, consider the file data as one long continuous stream, composed of the concatenation of each file in the order listed in the files list. The number of pieces and their boundaries are then determined in the same manner as the case of a single file. Pieces may overlap file boundaries.”

Piece 0 8537b0ba7005bd116d10817f0e0668c97f193103
Piece 1 34db5de0ab404e5d409e4698863f8c1497575ef6
Piece 2 3dac34f13552381efff3949c75e47f7ca0c0a884
Piece 3 29a5ac48987161108530a18dbb88abc3395afbb3
Piece 4 d7dcef3e200aa82443b09d3ed8d494bd86ee3a1c
Piece 5 0466960b6fa4f11afc3084ddb371287bd86901ad
Piece 6 c527a3a7d55213f1a9f8b793e940027ba7c668b6
Piece 7 0bcbacfdd8648ecfd8f9e8c4916301ff08b96374
Piece 8 6a5e2d9f482f9351aee0d5a7010c5465fd9c3cf2
Piece 9 2543df56222526f79737f958677fffb446f32f37
Piece 10 84809438df0a6448d96e503ac2b0632cf03ddb99
Piece 11 021e173ee362cefc19f3811fdc72c611834fa205
Piece 12 ee08ead91bbad072e4e7d33cd4a8995e02f67b79
Piece 13 25462bfddabb4b099617f6c58e149f5cd181c7c8
Piece 14 347f67bfb0c1bb17c988072b94b157a19c4278fe
Piece 15 8d05fc826f889395a1e58954206d73d91084aa7e
Piece 16 62172cd2a41809882e42a1848502589c3fe61ff0
Piece 17 86b6576a75cb8f69668bbf79bab9adf8fa03168d
Piece 18 a6a2b3a5d9235192c3e9a68b10e727e6dcc5a7fe
Piece 19 e07c494d042fe32ad2300fde2539bd110b523aae

End of sample output

References and acknowledgements: