"Downloaded" Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead between the lines are used to spread malware



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Digital criminals are actively using new episodes of popular TV programs to distribute malicious software, according to a survey by Kaspersky Lab. The Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and Arrow are the series that are at the heart of the attackers' interest. These and other findings are published in the new report, "Threats Game: How Digital Criminals Use Popular TV Shows to Spread Malware."

Television shows are one of the most popular and universal types of entertainment, but the emergence of torrents, online streaming, and other digital distribution methods often results in copyright infringement. In many areas, these programs can now be crawled through illegal channels such as torrent trackers and illegal streaming platforms. Unlike legitimate sources, torrent trackers and hosted files can send the user a file that looks like a TV episode, but is actually malware with a similar name.

Understanding how easy to download TV shows from illegal sources can be replaced with malware-based versions, Kaspersky researchers have looked more closely at the broken files, covering both 2018 and 2017. First on the list of both was Game of Thrones. In 2018, it accounted for 17 percent of all "contaminated" pirated content, with 20,934 attacking users, followed by The Walking Dead with 18,794 and Arrow with 12,163.

This despite the fact that in 2018 no new episode of the Game of Thrones was released, while the other lines of the list were accompanied by high profile advertising campaigns.
In any case, malware distributors have chosen the first and last episode of each season, with the opening episode being most often used, for example, the episode "Winter is Coming" from the first cycle of Game of Thrones.

"We are seeing clearly that malware distributors are exploiting highly-sought-after television programs on pirated sites: usually drama series or lines of action. The first and last episode, which attracts the majority of viewers, is likely to be at the highest risk of malicious forgery Digital fraudsters tend to exploit people's dedication and impatience so they can promise entirely new material for reception that is actually a digital threat.Being in mind that once the last cycle of Game of Thrones has begun, we would like to warn users that there is a likely increase in the number of malicious programs that are "disguised" as new episodes in this series, "said Anton V. Ivanov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

To avoid being a victim of malware by pretending to be a TV show, Kaspersky Lab recommends that you follow the steps below:

  • Use only legitimate services with a proven reputation for producing and distributing TV content.
  • Watch the extension of the downloaded file. Even if you plan to download episodes of TV shows from a source you believe to be reliable and legitimate, the file should have .avi, .mkv, or mp4 extension or any other, but certainly not .exe.
  • Pay particular attention to the authenticity of the sites. Do not visit websites that allow you to watch TV shows until you're sure they're cool and start with "https". Make sure the site is authentic by re-checking the URL format or spelling of the company name before starting the download.
  • Do not click suspicious links, like those that promise early episodes of a new episode. Check out when this TV show is scheduled and watch.

Last updated: Tuesday, April 16, 2019, 9:30 p.m.

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