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Game of Thrones downloads could be hiding malware

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It's no surprise that cybercriminals use popular events to spread malware or try to scam people out of their money. After seeing similar things during the Olympics and the World Cup, new reports are suggesting that they're using the release of the final Game of Thrones season to spread their malicious works of art across the globe.

As people, who don't have access to HBO, turn to the internet to try and find the latest episodes, hackers are using this moment of vulnerability to scam people into thinking they're downloading the TV series, when in fact, they're downloading malware.

Security researchers from Kaspersky Lab (opens in new tab) say that 20,934 users were attacked in 2018 using Game of Thrones, despite the fact that not a single new episode aired last year.

Looking at the bigger picture, Game of Thrones took 17 per cent of the entire infected pirated content market. There are two more shows that trick a lot of people: Arrow and The Walking Dead.

A total of 126,320 users downloaded malware instead of TV shows last year, a third less than a year before. Game of Thrones' first episode, Winter is Coming, is most widely used to trick people into downloading malware.

Looking at average stats, more than two users suffered seven attacks for each malware file posing as a TV show.

"As the world tightens up policies regarding pirated content and treats intellectual property more like physical property, malware distributors seem to be leaving file-hosting and torrent websites,” commented the report’s authors.

“But this might be due to increased popularity of streaming websites that do not require files to be downloaded, yet might be a source of different threats.”

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Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.