Winter is coming – so is the malware

Winter is coming – so is the malware

Thursday, 4 April, 2019

Spring may be here, but elsewhere winter is definitely coming, with the imminent arrival of the final season of the phenomenal HBO hit Game of Thrones. But beware we are not the only ones excited for the release of the series.

Cybercriminals, scammers and hackers are rubbing their hands in anticipation of exploiting a bonanza of opportunities to make money out of us through malware and other nefarious means.

According to Kaspersky Lab, Game of Thrones was the most exploited series by hackers and scammers last year. This was hackers targeting online users who watched the series through the internet or downloaded episodes from torrent sites, due to not having access to HBO.

Of course, Game of Thrones has not been the only show targeted as a lucrative potential for the criminals. Other shows that were popular targets last year included The Walking Dead, Arrow, Vikings and Doctor Who.

With Game of Thrones, they found in total 33 new types of malware and over 500 unique families of threats being used in episodes. In all the infected episodes accounted for 17% of all infected pirated content last year.

Kaspersky found that almost 126,320 users ended up downloading malware. They also found 21,000 machines were successfully infected out of 130,000 attempts.

Trojan malware was used in almost 33% of the infected episode files, adware was found in 28% and payload downloader was discovered in 21%. The downloader could infect systems without any interference from users, while adware was used to embed unwanted ads and manipulate browser search results to collect data for displaying targeted ads.

In a majority of cases Kaspersky Lab found the Trojan malware was distributed through emails containing a file that purported to be an episode but in reality, was a shortcut to the malware.

It seems that this year the bad guys are concentrated on streaming websites instead of the more traditional file-hosting and torrent sites like the infamous Pirate Bay. Despite this, Kaspersky says that fans should avoid downloading pirated episodes from torrent sites and always use an authentic streaming site. But it is also extremely important to pay attention to the extension of the file.

If there is a video format extension then it will be a video file and if there is an .exe extension, it will probably be an executable file, and these should be avoided.

Finally, don’t be tempted by those enticing, supposed leaked episodes. This is a favourite tactic of the hackers and scammers into luring users into downloading their malware.

So, to paraphrase Cersei Lannister – you watch the Game of Thrones legitimately or you get infected. Winter is indeed coming.

TG Bamford author picture


A veteran freelance journalist writing extensively on internet news and cybersecurity.

News What's the story?

Keep up with the latest developments in UK broadband.

UK 5G network goes live – are you up to speed?

Here's everything you need to know about the new mobile broadband network.

UK 5G network goes live – are you up to speed? Read more

TalkTalk offers exclusive £80 reward to new fibre customers

The huge bonus is available to anyone signing up for a 'Faster Fibre' bundle through

Read more

TikTok ‘gifts’ empty kids piggy banks

Children are most vulnerable to 'influencer' donation pleas

Read more

Netflix ruins 90’s cartoon, enrages internet

The streaming giant came in for criticism for 'straightwashing' Japanese cult classic anime.

Read more

Porn-block pushed back by clerical errors

Further delays to the child-protection measure, with the process mocked as an 'utter shambles'.

Read more

How to watch Wimbledon online for free

How to make sure you don't miss out on the action from your favourite sports stars.

How to watch Wimbledon online for free Read more

Fast fines for ISPs could end the “Loyalty Penalty”

But could the proposed measures mean worse deals for those who shop around?

Read more

Boris Johnson mocks full-fibre roll-out plans

The likely next PM boasts plans to beat current targets by 8 years, but is it all just hot air?

Read more

Broadband and phone companies to put Fairness first

Telecoms providers commit to raising standards.

Read more

UK to get legal right to decent and affordable broadband

New legislation will ensure minimum speeds for every UK household.

Read more

GDPR – One year on

The landmark legislation gave people the ‘right to know’ when their data had been hacked.

Read more

Help Learn with us

Make the most of the internet with our broadband library.

How to childproof your home broadband

How to childproof your home broadband Read more

Why Ofcom’s USO is more than pie in the sky

Read more

Protecting your small business against cyber attacks

Read more

Could 5G end fixed-line home broadband?

Read more

How broadband availability varies across the UK

Read more

Which social media platforms should I be on?

Read more

Will you get online on holiday?

Stay connected during your get-away.

Will you get online on holiday? Read more

Make the most of your broadband overnight

Read more

The main causes of slow internet connections

Slow broadband can be more than just an irritant - but what causes it, and what can we do to fight back?

Read more

Do you need to ramp up your broadband controls?

Read more

The different types of home computer

Read more
Back To Top