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Malware Is (Probably) Coming... If You Pirated Game of Thrones

Illustration for article titled Malware Is (Probably) Coming... If You Pirated iGame of Thrones/i
Image: HBO

One of the most-pirated TV shows could also be the most likely to give unauthorized downloaders a nasty case of malware.


On Monday security firm Kaspersky released a new report on scammers’ use of popular TV shows to spread malware. The report shows the top pirated shows’ likelihood of infecting computers.

Kaspersky’s results show that Game of Thrones was the riskiest to pirate, followed by The Walking Dead, and Arrow. Other risky shows include Suits, Vikings, The Big Bang Theory, Supernatural, Grey’s Anatomy, and This Is Us.


In 2018, Game of Thrones pirated downloads reportedly accounted for 17 percent of infected downloads—20,934 users—even though Game of Thrones didn’t even release any new episodes in 2018. The first and last episodes of each season were the most likely to have malware. And the first episode of the series, “Winter is Coming” is the most dangerous of all episodes.

Kaspersky found 33 types of threats connected with Game of Thrones pirated downloads.

Of course, the best way to avoid infection is to watch a TV show through an authorized streaming service. But if you’re going to pirate, Kaspersky recommends being vigilant when doing the deed—check to make sure a website is legitimate before downloading from it, check the URL format and spelling to make sure it’s not fake, if downloading a TV show make sure the file doesn’t end in .exe, and check the comments about a downloadable file to make sure they’re related to the TV show.

Kaspersky notes that the number of people affected by pirated TV-show malware last year was 126,340—a third less than the number of people affected in 2017. But the company expects “a new wave of malicious activity accompanying the release of the final season of Game of Thrones in April 2019.”


[Kapersky via Torrent Freak]

Former senior reporter at Gizmodo

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OK, from what, erm, a friend who pirates media tells me, you get infected from a number of ways:

1. Files that are actually executable masquerading as media. On Windows, check your file extension.

2. Files that are gibberish, with instructions like “if it doesn’t play, run this file to fix it”.

I - I mean, my friend does’t think there’s any known method through which playing any media file will infect your machine. A vulnerability on a media player software would be big news.