After a long wait, it’s finally here: the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones. The massively popular television series has countless fans from all over the world. This is the perfect hunting ground for scammers. They’ve improved their phishing scams and hope to take full advantage of the new season.
In a recent and very interesting report by security firm, Kaspersky, they found that popular shows like GOT are being used to carry malware straight into our living rooms. More than 126,000 users downloaded malware instead of TV shows in 2018.
Paying the Iron Price for Freebies
The malware infections discussed here are not caused by playing a show on Netflix or Prime. But pirated TV shows and movies are popular. If you think illegal downloading is a niche thing to do then you may be surprised by the 1 billion downloads or streaming’s of season 7 Game of Thrones.
The Kaspersky analysis shows that Game of Thrones was the most malware infected of all pirated TV shows. In 2018, 126,340 users, globally, were infected through this route – 22% of them via Game of Thrones.
If you think, “No worries, I don’t like Game of Thrones, too gory” well the scammers like all the same TV shows you like too. As well as GOT, the other malware-ridden shows included, The Walking Dead, Arrow, Suits, and Vikings.
Fake Game of Thrones merchandise and gifts
Most websites, however, contain phishing scams. These websites use the Game of Thrones brand to lure you in and collect your information. Some pose as a merchandise store, while others pretend to host a giveaway. The goal is that you buy a product from the merchandise store, which you will never receive, or that you enter your contact or credit card details for the giveaway.
How to Avoid the GOT Scam
The best way to avoid falling victim to phishing attempts and malware is to not pirate episodes of the show. Admittedly, that can be a tall order for Game of Thrones fans outside of the United States. HBO’s own streaming services, Go and Now, are unavailable outside of their home country and geo-restricted in most of the rest of the world.
- Pay close attention to the source – note website URLs and email addresses. Phishing emails and spoof sites may look legitimate, but they often use slightly modified domain names.
- Take extreme caution when downloading files from unknown sources
- Do not click the link in an email promising you exclusive views of a new TV show
- Use anti-malware and/or antivirus software alongside cautious online behaviour and most of all be security aware
With the release of the final series, it is highly likely that this successful scam will continue to affect viewers. Don’t be like Ned Stark and end up duped by the cybercriminal equivalent of Littlefinger – Keep Cyber-Safe by being Cyber-Savvy.