In the list of threats: “Game of Thrones” - one of the most popular cover for cybercriminals

Hello, Habr! I present to you the translation of the article “ThreatList: Game of Thrones, a Top Malware Conduit for Cybercriminals” by Tara Seals.

While the 8th season of Game of Thrones is getting ready, new research shows that last year, a popular TV show in 17% of cases served as a cover for malware on pirate sites.

As the eighth season of Game of Thrones approaches, Game of Thrones, GoT) fans are preparing for the greatest clash of the living and the dead, fire and flame, people and monsters. At the same time, they have to be careful about where they get the next intoxicating portion of John Snow: recent research has concluded that the science-fiction series is the cybercriminals' favorite target for disguising malware as pirated content.

The game of thrones accounted for 17% of all infected pirated content tracked by researchers together with Kaspersky Lab, with a total of 20,934 attacked users - despite the fact that not a single season was released in 2018. This result shows that the series is the most popular target of its kind, despite the fact that, according to research, it is only the eighth most popular on illegal platforms; Also, the series did not hit the top 10 in popularity on torrent trackers.

According to the report of Kaspersky Lab, released on Monday ( 04/01/2019): “In many regions, popular programs are distributed illegally, such as torrent trackers and streaming platforms without authorization. Unlike legal resources, torrent trackers and file hosting services can prompt a user to download a malicious program under the guise of an episode of the series. ”

It is worth confessing that the possibility of getting something for free has a certain appeal. As a result, at a time when people should have realized for a long time that downloading pirated content is a high-stakes game that can lead to a general infection of a user's device, the reality is that using illegal markets to access popular content (especially to the one that is originally published on premium channels) is blooming in practice.

The eighth and final season of the cult series, filmed under the auspices of the HBO cable channel, kicks off on April 14 and its fans are extremely excited. At the same time, not all of them have a subscription to the specified channel. Thus, it is expected that pirated sites will retain their popularity.

The danger lies not only in new episodes: the drunken revision of previous seasons before the premiere also remains a popular pastime. For example, the first GoT season - “Winter Is Coming” - is the most popular target of all seasons of the series, according to Kaspersky Lab.

Whatever it was, in 2019 the company does not expect a decline in the dominance of Game of Thrones in terms of the number of infected content. Figuratively speaking, the malware is close.

“The first and last episodes that attract the most users are likely to be in the zone of greatest risk spoofing,” says Anton Ivanov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, in the analysis. “Online scammers prone to exploiting human attachment and impatience can offer freshly baked material for download, which is actually a security risk. Bearing in mind that the final season of Game of Thrones will begin this month, we would like to warn users that in all likelihood there will be a sharp jump in the amount of malware disguised as new episodes of the series. ”

GoT is alone in its appeal to pirates (and, therefore, to cybercriminals). The series The Walking Dead (English “The Walking Dead” ) and “Arrow” (English “Arrow”) were the next most popular targets for malicious cybercriminals. With their help, 18,794 and 12,163 users were attacked, respectively.

“It is clearly visible that malware distributors use TV shows that have high demand on pirated sites; these shows, as a rule, are actively advertised dramas or action series, ”says A. Ivanov.

The report cites that the total number of attacked users is 126,340, which is one third less than in 2017 (188,769). This decrease, however, is less than in other segments. Kaspersky Lab claims that, by comparison, the number of users exposed to malware delivered through other types of content, including pornography, fell by 45 percent in 2018.

“This decrease may be due to some events that could potentially affect the decrease in the number of downloaded torrent files,” the speaker notes. “First, in 2018, Google lowered the priority of more than 65,000 torrent trackers, the main distributor of pirated TV shows,” making it impossible for them to find a huge number of users when searching for a series. Active actions against torrent trackers significantly change the picture: more and more of them are blocked or their activities are hampered. For example, the two largest torrent trackers (Pirate Bay and Demonoid) have recently been hit hard by functional collapses, while the oldest, Leechers Paradise, has been permanently closed. ”

In order to exclude the possibility of becoming a victim of malicious files under the guise of TV shows, users should abandon pirated content once and for all. If, nevertheless, they cannot avoid downloading, you should make sure that the downloaded files have the extension avi, .mkv or mp4, and not .exe.

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