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Tuesday, 02 April 2019 09:34

Game of Thrones downloads favoured for spreading Windows malware

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Game of Thrones downloads favoured for spreading Windows malware Image by Steven Cox from Pixabay

Game of Thrones is the most widely used among downloaded TV shows to spread Windows malware, the security firm Kaspersky Lab claims, using data obtained from its Kaspersky Security Network to come to this conclusion.

The company found that a total of 126,320 users worldwide had encountered TV-show-related malware, a third less than in 2017. The quantum of attacks by such malware had dropped by 22% year-on-year to 451,636 attempts.

Other interesting findings:

  • The top three TV shows most often used for bait and used to attack the greatest number of users: Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and Arrow.
  • Game of Thrones accounted for 17% of all the infected pirated content in 2018, with 20,934 users attacked, despite being the only TV show in the list that didn’t have new episodes released in 2018.
  • The first and the last episodes of each Game of Thrones season we analysed turned out the most dangerous, accounting for the greatest number of malicious files in Kaspersky Lab’s collection and affecting the most users.
  • ‘Winter Is Coming‘ – the very first episode of the show – was the one most actively used by cyber criminals.
  • Within two years, 33 types and 505 different families of threats were detected hiding behind the Game of Thrones title.
  • On average, 2.23 users were attacked seven times per each malware file disguised as a TV show.
  • American Horror Story proved to be the most effective malware cover – each malicious file hidden behind the title has reached an average of three users.
  • Not-a-virus:Downloader and Not-a-virus:AdWare turned out to be two of the most popular threats delivered via TV show content, the most popular one being trojans.

The company's Global Research and Analysis Team, which compiled the report, said: "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 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.

"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."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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