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Google, Game of Thrones and UEFA have one surprising thing in common

Cyber criminals are increasingly using Google apps and popular sporting and entertainment events, like the UEFA tournament and Game of Thrones final season, to steal data from unlucky fans, according to research from Kaspersky.

The company reported seeing a marked uptick in attacks leveraging Google services in its newly published Spam and phishing in Q2 2019 report.

“In the second quarter of 2019, scammers were making active use of cloud-based data storage services such as Google Drive and Google Storage to hide their illegal content. The reasoning behind this is simple: a link from a legitimate domain is seen as more trustworthy by both users and spam filters,” explained the report.

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The attacks reportedly use the services to share dodgy files with links to malicious web pages owned by the hackers. Kaspersky reported seeing particularly nasty attacks spreading on Google Photos and Calendar.

“This past quarter, cybercriminals actively used Google Calendar to send out invitations to non-existent meetings, adding phishing links to fields filled out by the organizer,” explained the report.

“Through Google Photos, fraudsters shared photos accompanied by a comment containing information about a money transfer and a contact email address. It’s a traditional scheme: before receiving the promised money, the victim is asked to pay some kind of “service fee”, whereupon the attackers vanish into thin air.”

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Kaspersky reported seeing a particular spike in activity around the 2019 UEFA Europa League Final in Baku and GoT final season.

“In Q2 we detected a spam mailing timed to coincide with the 2019 UEFA Europa League Final in Baku. Recipients were asked to guess the winner of the match and earn the chance to win up to £200,000. For this, they had to follow the link in the message, provide some personal data, and predict which team would win. The information collected could then be used for fraudulent attacks and more spam mailings,” read the report.

“[In Q2 we also] witnessed the long-awaited premiere of the last season of Game of Thrones, and our statistics showed that the following week the number of scam resources mentioning the series increased fourfold against the month before the release.”

Attacks targeting Game of Thrones fans have been a growing threat since the show launched. Experts from McAfee, F-Secure and Kaspersky told Trusted Reviews the attacks tend to focus on phishing, rather than spreading malware through torrent sites earlier this year.

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