New Delhi: Hackers are using latest episodes of popular TV shows such as Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and Arrow as bait to target unsuspecting users, claims a new Kaspersky Labs report, published on 3 April.
Game of Thrones alone accounted for 17% of all infected pirated content in 2018 with 20,934 users infected by it. Malware hidden in episodes of Walking Dead and Arrow infected 18,794 12,163 users, respectively, according to the report.
The malware are usually hidden in the first and the last episode of each season as they viewership is usually higher in these episodes.
The attack occurs, when a user clicks on the play button or the download link with the malicious payload on a website that may not be the authorised distributor of the TV series or movie. In the eagerness to catch the latest episodes, users often do not verify if the web page is unsafe or the file extension is not downloading a video file format like MP4 or AVI.
Online fraudsters tend to exploit people’s loyalty and impatience, so may promise brand new material for download that is in fact a cyber threat. "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," cautions Anton V. Ivanov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab in a press statement.
Despite the heavy clampdown on piracy and shutting down of some of the leading portals world over, piracy of videos is rampant. Users turn to proxies and virtual private networks (VPNs) to override the take down orders by government and enforced by operators within their country.
While these pirated platforms allow users to access TV shows and movies that are otherwise not available on legitimate streaming platforms die to geographical licensing deals, they are also opening users to malware attacks and putting their entire device and accounts on it at risk.