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Think twice before torrenting Game of Thrones, the files are riddled with malware

As well as other popular shows and movies.

game of thrones torrents littered with malware
Image: Josiah Motley / KnowTechie

It’s no secret that once something gets popular, it becomes a target for hackers, thieves, and other miscreants. Sometimes shows get so popular that even the pirated torrents get hijacked by hackers to spread malware, as discovered in a recent report from Kaspersky Labs.

They found that popular torrents of shows such as Game of Thrones, Arrow, and The Walking Dead were being used to spread malware and other malicious files.

Once downloaded, those torrent-jacked files, installing trojans and adware

And in some cases, they even install downloaders that, once opened, leave your computer open to a world of hurt. Banking creds, passwords and more can all be siphoned off, leaving you wondering if the cost of pirating HBO was worth it.

It’s not just HBO’s shows that were used in this way, but Game of Thrones was the show with the most malicious fake files, with 17-percent of all of the infected torrents that Kaspersky looked at. That shakes down at over 20,000 users infected – an impressive figure when you remember that the show didn’t actually air any new episodes in 2018 at all. With all the marketing buzz over the series, it’s not really any surprise that the first and last episodes of each season were the most targeted by malicious actors. I guess it’s not just main characters that die every episode, it’s also potentially your bank balance.

Image: Kaspersky Labs

Other popular shows in the top ten torrents used to spread malware include Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Doctor, Suits, and Supernatural.

It’s not all bad news though

The overall number of infected files and successful attacks dropped substantially from the year before, 126,340 users were attacked – one third less than in 2017 (188,769). That’s probably due to the enforcement efforts to reduce the visibility of torrents, with Google deranking 65,000 torrent sites and multiple popular sites being shut down for good.

Oh, and in case you think torrenting shows that didn’t make the top 10 keeps you safe – you’d be mistaken. The most successful attacks came from files masquerading as episodes of American Horror Story, with an average of 3 users attacked per file.

The easiest way to avoid being attacked is to get your content straight from the source, and yes that means paying for subscriptions (unless you borrow a family member’s login).

Surprised by these results or are the numbers lower than you expected? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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