Thinking about crossing over to the dark side to watch Game of Thrones (GoT) season 8 illegally? Well first, shame on you. Go and sit on the naughty step!
As it goes, this will likely be the worst punishment doled out for your nefarious wrong-doing, short of law-enforcement catching and making an example of you – as they have many times before.
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Speaking to Trusted Reviews, security experts from F-Secure, McAfee and Kaspersky confirmed that while illegal downloads and streams can come laced with malware, the threat isn’t as big as you might have thought.
Tom Van de Wiele, principal security consultant at F-Secure, told Trusted Reviews that this is largely because many of the big sites that are hosting GoT content illegally have created peer-review systems to protect repeat customers.
“There are indeed people offering malware posing as popular content, whatever the popular media of the day is. In this case, GoT. The fake episode poses as a media file, or contains a fake codec or other fake piece of software pretending to facilitate watching the episode,” he explained.
“The user runs the malicious program and the computer system is now backdoored and under the control of the attacker. As far as how much of this works; the online – albeit illegally motivated – communities will quickly identify the fake ones and vote them down or remove them.”
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John Fokker, head of cyber investigations at McAfee, reiterated Wiele’s sentiment, adding that the more significant risk is criminal prosecution, and that hackers are more effectively targeting users using tertiary hooks such as GoT spoilers and fan theories.
“These streams are illegally broadcasting live content, so by accessing them you’re putting yourself at risk of prosecution. The risk isn’t worth it! People must also remain cautious when searching for fan theories or spoilers online,” he said.
“Emilia Clarke, who portrays Daenerys Targaryen in the TV drama came in at #17 in McAfee’s 2018 Most Dangerous Celebrities study. Cybercriminals use the allure of celebrities – such as Clarke – to trick unsuspecting users into visiting malicious websites. These sites can be used to install malware on a victim’s device, or even to steal their personal information or passwords.”
The news is a marked turnaround on malware figures being quoted during season seven of Game of Thrones.
“With the final series of Game of Thrones now underway, it’s shocking to see that the show has been pirated 54,261,910 times. According to our research, Game of Thrones was one of the most commonly used shows for cybercriminals to disguise as malware in 2018, accounting for 17% of all infected pirated content,” said Fokker.
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In a report pubished last year, TorrentFreak revealed that more than 1000 suits were filed against individual pirates in the US during 2017. And the total has reportedly since increased.
We’d recommend avoiding using illegal stream and download sites, regardless of the hacker threat. Police, legitimate broadcasters and creative companies are getting increasingly proactive in regards to shutting them down, and individuals have been targeted in the past. You’d be better off grabbing a Now TV subscription.
Do you think the crackdown on pirates is working? Let us know on Twitter @TrustedReviews.