Torrent malware falls as the use of pirated streaming increases

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Together, as reported by Kaspersky Lab, both the number of users who downloaded malware infected by piratted copies of TV episodes and the number of related attacks decreased by 33 and 22 percent respectively during 2018.

“The total number of users of malware-related TV programs in 2018 is 126,340 globally, one-third lower than in 2017. The number of malware attacks was 22% lower than in 2017 at 451,636,” says Kaspersky.

Since around one-third of all of the files that are available via torrent trackers include pirated content like books, music and television shows, cyber criminals see these torrents as a very easy way of spreading malware on unsuspecting victims ‘ computers.

A large part of the bootlegged content distributed over BitTorrent is either linked to malicious or scam websites, or is malware infected, as detailed by independent security researchers and academic studies. Once malware-ridden flows are opened, they may begin advertising in or for various cryptocurrencies on the victim’s web browsers or begin to exfiltrate sensitive information to servers controlled by malicious players.

“Online fraudsters tend to use the loyalty and impatience of people and they may promise brand new download material that actually constitutes a cyberthreat,” said Anton V. Ivanov, a security researcher in Kaspersky. “We want to warn users of how much malware will most likely spike in as new episodes of this show as the final’ Game of Thrones ‘ season begins this month.”

As revealed by Kaspersky, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, and Torrent, are the top three TV shows most commonly used in malware attacks on users downloading pirated TV episodes.

  1. Altered Carbon
  2. American Horror Story
  3. Arrow
  4. Better Call Saul
  5. Daredevil
  6. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
  7. Doctor Who
  8. Game of Thrones
  9. Grey’s Anatomy
  10. Homeland
  11. House of Cards
  12. Killing Eve
  13. Legends of Tomorrow
  14. Modern Family
  15. Roseanna
  16. Sharp Objects
  17. Stranger Things
  18. Suits
  19. Supernatural
  20. The Big Bang Theory
  21. The Flash
  22. The Good Doctor
  23. The Good Place
  24. The Handmaid’s Tale
  25. The Haunting of Hill House
  26. The Walking Dead
  27. The X-files
  28. This Is Us
  29. Vikings
  30. Westworld
  31. Young Sheldon

“Every malware file disguised as a TV show was attacked seven times on an average by 2,23 users,” says Kaspersky. “American Horror Story proved the most effective malware coverage–each malicious file hidden behind the title has averaged three users.”

TV Shows Trojans (33 percent), downloaders (21 percent), and adware (28 percent) were the two most popular threats on TV shows, usually delivered in a hidden folder and launched by unreliable people via an abbreviation for the abbreviation of malicious folders.

“We examined whether the users who had agreed on sharing threat statistics with KSN have ever had malware when dealing with the relevant TV show titles, using added threat statistics from Kaspersky Security Netzwork (KSN), a system dedicated to processing cybersecurity-related data streams from millions of volunteers worldwide,” says Kaspersky.

The total number of users of malware that have been incorporated in fake TV episodes during 2018 and the number of attacks using malware have declined because of highly popular illegal streaming platforms where bootlegged TV content can be viewed without downloading according to the research carried out by Kaspersky.

However, although apparently safer, websites that stream online TV can also be used to disseminate different types of threats from adware to serious malware families as revealed by a research by Carnegie Mellon University, which emphasizes that doubling the time spent on broken websites means that the number of malware files in general will increase by 20 percent and malware files by 20 percent.

Mark Funk
Mark Funk is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.