Illegal downloads of Game of Thrones are being used by cyber hackers to attack computers, experts have warned.
The overwhelming popularity of the HBO fantasy show has made it become a hot property on torrent sites, where users can download it free of charge. But experts say that the rise in popularity has led cyber criminals to disguise malware inside torrents, tricking users into downloading them.
Ahead of the final season airing later this month, it’s expected that users could fall victim to the malware as they head online to download the latest episodes.
While no new episodes arrived in 2018, the show still accounted for a staggering 17 per cent of all of the infected pirated content in 2018, according to research from cyber security company Kaspersky.
According to The Independent, it was the most popular show for cyber criminals to use – alongside zombie drama The Walking Dead and Arrow.
And according to the research, the upcoming premiere of Season 8 could prove to be especially dangerous.
“The first and the last episodes of each Game of Thrones season we analysed turned out the most dangerous, accounting for the greatest number of malicious files in Kaspersky Lab’s collection and affecting the most users,” the research found.
Although the most popular show for cyber criminals to use, Game of Thrones didn’t always guarantee a result for cyber criminals. The research states that American Horror Story was actually the most successful show for cyber hackers.
Rather encouragingly, it appears that the hackers could be on the decline too. Some 126, 340 users encountered the malware in 2018 – a third less than it was the year before.
While Kaspersky claim that the drop is linked to a successful reduction in security threats, it’s believed that it could also be linked to a drop in the amount of people using torrents.