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NEW DELHI: As Indians stay home during the pandemic and browse the web for free online entertainment, they are exposing themselves to grave risk, according to a new research by cybersecurity company McAfee which lists the top 10 movie and TV titles targeted for cyber crimes in India.

Movie titles include Mardaani 2, Chapaak, Love Aaj Kal, Bahubali, and Gully Boy.

"The lockdown induced surge in online entertainment traffic has brewed the perfect storm for cybercriminals. They are following and targeting consumers’ obsession with accessing content - particularly for free. They entice users to visit potentially malicious websites, designed to install malware or steal passwords and personal information," said Venkat Krishnapur, vice-president of engineering and managing director, McAfee India.

Regional content, in Hindi and other languages, account for nearly half of the top television titles at most risk of being targeted. Popular serials such as Delhi Crime, Panchayat, Akoori and Ghoul lead the pack.

As subscription-based models and content behind paywalls continue to trend, users who do not want to pay for premium content will continue searching for free content online, exposing themselves to vulnerabilities. McAfee advises that it is crucial that consumers stay vigilant, invest in responsible online behaviour and recognise that if something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.

The safest thing to do is to subscribe to a streaming site that offers the content or download the movie from sources like Netflix or Amazon, instead of downloading a "free" version from a website that could potentially contain malware.

Also, users should refrain from using illegal streaming sites as these can be riddled with malware disguised as pirated video files.

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