HBO Hackers Issue Demands

Game of Pwns – Cyber criminals are using top TV series to spread malware

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With the final season of Game of Thrones set to start later this month some folks might be tempted to download the series to keep up with the rest of the world.

Here’s the thing though, don’t do that because you might be compromising your cybersecurity in pursuit of social relevance.

The reason for this, according to researchers at Kaspersky Lab is because new episodes of popular TV shows were found to contain malware.

“Seeing how easily TV shows downloaded from illegitimate resources can be replaced with malware-carrying versions, Kaspersky lab researchers took a closer look at such compromised files, covering both 2018 and 2017. Leading the list in both years was Game of Thrones. In 2018, it accounted for 17% of all infected pirated content, with 20,934 attacked users, followed by The Walking Dead, with 18,794, and Arrow, with 12,163,” Kaspersky Lab said in a statement.

Image courtesy Kaspersky Lab.

The researchers at Kaspersky go on to say that attackers target for the first or last episode in a season.

“We can see clearly that malware distributors exploit TV shows that are in high demand on pirated websites: these are usually actively promoted dramas or action series. The first and final episodes, attracting the most viewers, are likely to be at greatest risk of malicious spoofing,” security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, Anton Ivanov, said.

“Online fraudsters tend to exploit people’s loyalty and impatience, so may promise brand new material for download that is in fact a cyberthreat. Keeping in mind that the final season of Game of Thrones starts this month, we would like to warn users that it is highly likely there will be a spike in the amount of malware disguised as new episodes of this show,” Ivanov added.

Of course you can protect yourself by not downloading content illegally. However, whether you’re downloading legally or not be sure to look for the correct file extension. Usually this is a .mp4, .mkv or .avi but it is never .exe. Should your downloaded file be an .exe then delete it and run a scan of your computer.

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.