In a recent report, security firm Kaspersky Lab says, based on data obtained from its Kaspersky Security Network, that Game of Thrones is the most widely used among all downloaded TV shows for spreading Windows malware.
126,320 users across the world had encountered TV show-related malware. The Kaspersky report says,
“The total number of users who encountered by TV-show-related malware in 2018 is 126,340 globally, one-third less than in 2017. The number of attacks by such malware has seen a decrease of 22% to 451,636 registered attempts”
The Kaspersky report also made some other interesting observations. Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and Arrow were the top three TV shows “most often used for bait and used to attack the greatest number of users”. An interesting fact about Game of Thrones is that even though it’s the only TV show in the list that didn’t have new episodes released in 2018, it accounted for 17 percent of all infected pirated content in 2018. 20,934 users who downloaded Game of Thrones were attacked in 2018. The Kaspersky team that analyzed different seasons of the Game of Thrones series found that the first and the last episodes of each season turned out the most dangerous, accounting for the greatest number of malicious files in Kaspersky Lab’s collection and also affecting the most number of users.
While the Kaspersky Labs team found, within two years, 33 types and 505 different families of threats hiding behind the Game of Thrones title, they also found that the very first episode of ‘Winter Is Coming‘ was the one most actively used by cybercriminals and that American Horror Story proved to be the most effective malware cover. Each malware hidden behind the American Horror Story title has reached an average of three users. The report says that 2.23 users, on average, were attacked seven times per each malware file guised as a TV show. Two of the most popular threats delivered via TV show content were Not-a-virus:Downloader and Not-a-virus:AdWare, while Trojan was the most popular malware type involved.
The Kaspersky Lab team that made these findings observes, “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. But, as we said earlier, 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…At the same time, we’ve seen that the number of users faced with TV-series-themed malware is still quite large and this threat is proving problematic to those who are looking for free content on the internet. Especially when it comes to extremely popular shows like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Arrow and others.”
The report further says, “Game of Thrones deserves a special mention as it was one of the very few series which had no new episodes out last year but still topped the malware charts, according to Kaspersky Lab telemetry…That said, it won’t come as a big surprise to see a new wave of malicious activity accompanying the release of the final season of Game of Thrones in April 2019.”
The research team involved in the study advises users to stick only to legitimate sources of content and still stay alerted. Users are also advised to pay attention to website authenticity and not to click on suspicious links promising exclusive early premiere of latest episodes of TV shows.