We all love spending our free time in front of our television or laptop watching our favourite TV shows. Some of us even prefer video-streaming services over human company. And maybe this is the reason that cybercriminals are now actively using new episodes of popular TV shows to distribute malware, according to a latest research.
According to a report by Kaspersky Lab, popular TV shows that are watched by scores of people across the globe including Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Arrow are among the shows that are receiving the most attention from spammers. Kaspersky has talked in detail about this and more in a newly published report called ‘Game of Threats: How cybercriminals use popular TV shows to spread malware.’
It is a known fact that TV shows are a universal way for people to entertain themselves and with the rise of torrents, online streaming and other methods of digital distribution, is very common for them to suffer from copyright infringement. In many regions, programs like these can be accessed via illegal channels like torrent trackers and some streaming platforms. However, unlike legitimate resources, these torrent trackers may have sent users a file that looks like an episode of their favourite TV show, but actually, it is a malware with a name similar to that of the episode.
It is very easy for illegitimate resources to replace the real episode of TV shows with a malware carrying version, and most users are not careful enough to check this. Considering this, the research firm took a look at some of these compromised files from 2017 and 2018. The leading name in the list of both the years is Game of Thrones. We have to say, we are not surprised.
According to the report, the show accounted for 17% of all infected pirated content in 2018, which attacked 20,934 attacked users. The next two in the list were The Walking Dead and Arrow, which attacked 18,794 and 12,163 users respectively.
We should add here that in 2018, no new episodes of Game of Thrones were released and even then, the TV show managed to top the list. It is also worth noticing that other shows in the ranking were accompanied by high profile promotional campaigns. In all the cases that were observed, the malware distributors opted for the first and last episode of each season.
Speaking about this, Anton V Ivanov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab said, “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. 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.”