Researchers at Kaspersky have detected a 39% rise in attacks related to 2019 Grammy-nominated artists, many of which were nominated for Brit Awards this week.
Brit nominees Ariana Grande and Post Malone – alongside Taylor Swift – were the artists used most to disguise malicious software, with over half of the files named after them.
Meanwhile, Post Malone’s Sunflower, Khalid’s Talk and Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road were the tracks that were subjected to the most malware attacks this year.
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Kaspersky also spotted a correlation between an artist’s rise in popularity and malicious activity. The number of users fooled by dodgy files with Billie Eilish’s name on them has risen tenfold since 2018, going from 254 all the way up to 2171.
That said, hidden malware seems to be increasing all around, if established artist Lady Gaga’s sudden surge is anything to go by.
Here are the top artists and singles analysed for malware:
- Ariana Grande – 7 Rings
- Billie Eilish – Bad Guy
- Bon Iver – Hey, ma
- H.E.R. – Hard Place
- KHALID – Talk
- Lady Gaga – Always Remember Us This Way
- Lana Del Rey – Norman F*cking Rockwell
- Lewis Capaldi – Someone you loved
- LIL NAS X – Old Town Road
- Lizzo – Truth Hurts
- Post Malone and Swae Lee – Sunflower
- Tanya Tucker – Bring my flowers now
- Taylor Swift – Lover
“Cybercriminals understand what is popular and always strive to capitalise on that”, explained Kaspersky security analyst Anton Ivanov.
“Music, alongside TV shows, is one of the most popular types of entertainment and, as a result, an attractive means to spread malware, which criminals readily use. However, as we see more and more users subscribe to streaming platforms, which do not require file download in order to listen to music, we expect that malicious activity related to this type of content will decrease”.
So, how can you protect yourself from hackers without missing out on your favourite tunes?
Kaspersky recommends that listeners stick to reputable services like Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon Music or recognised free music sites that allow them to download songs legally.
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Consumers should also avoid suspicious links promising exclusive music content and check musicians’ social media accounts or reputable music blogs to ensure that this content actually exists before downloading anything.
It’s also good to check the file extension before opening any audio downloads. The file should be mp3, avi, mkv or mp4, never exe or lnk.