Game of Thrones Mania Leads To Malware Infestations Spread By Cheapskate Torrent Seekers

Game of Thrones
The eighth and final season of HBO's popular Game of Thrones series is nearly upon us, which means that winter is finally coming. That also means an invasion of malware. Not from HBO, mind you, but through the sometimes sordid torrent community where illegal downloads flourish. As it were, Game of Thrones is the top TV show torrent used to cover up malware, according to data by Kaspersky.

Kaspersky's full report includes plenty of interesting data. To start with, it found that the total number of users who encountered malware piggybacking on TV show torrents in 2018 was 126,340. That's actually a 33 percent decrease from 2017, though still a relatively large number.

Game of Thrones topped The Walking Dead and Arrow as the TV show that was most often used to distribute malware in the torrent community, accounting for 17 percent of all infected pirated content in 2018. What makes that stat even more interesting is that Game of Thrones did not have any new episodes last year.

Game of Thrones Malware Graph
Source: Kaspersky Lab

On a per season basis, the first and last episodes contained the greatest number of malicious files in Kaspersky's collection, subsequently infecting the most users. Within a two-year span, Kaspersky detected 33 types and 505 different families of threats hiding behind the Game of Thrones title.

As the final season in the series looms, we would not be surprised if the numbers spiked. However, Game of Thrones is far from the only TV show that malware distributors are hitching a ride on, in the torrent community. Torrent files for shows like The Big Bang Theory and Grey's Anatomy are also popular vessels for malware.

"Torrents are still running high and—based on our statistics—attempts to harm users are still registered. To measure how effective such malware is, we compared the overall number of unique users attacked with the number of malicious files detected. By dividing the number of users by the number of files we found that every TV show malware file has infected an average of 2.23 users in 2018," Kaspersky said.

The way to avoid this is simple—avoid illegally downloading shows and instead watch them through legitimate sources, such as HBO Go, Netflix, Hulu, and so forth (depending on the show). That said, it's unrealistic to think that there will not be a large number of users who seek out illegal downloads.

Thumbnail/Top Image Source: HBO