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Malware Infesting TV shows? Here’s How to Stay Safe

When the final season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” launched in April of 2019, it shattered cable television and streaming service records for viewership. But a far larger audience saw the show than HBO’s numbers indicated because of the practice of torrenting and other illegal channels.

Torrenting works by allowing users to host and download files in a decentralized peer-to-peer network. Using torrenting software, users can search for files, such as the latest episodes of “Game of Thrones”, and download them from multiple sources at the same time, thus greatly improving the speed at which they become available.

But cybercriminals use this blind download to inject malware into the files they are sharing, or even put a fake name onto the malware itself to get people to download it straight onto their computer. The most practical application then is to ensure you have a strong malware removal software on your computer to wipe out any threats that try to sneak across the digital landscape when you are using torrenting sites to download TV shows, movies, music, or any other type of file

Game of Thrones’ Dark Side

Even worse than all the betrayals, affairs, and things that go bump in the snow on the actual TV series is the damage done via the illegal viewing of “Game of Thrones”. According to Kaspersky Lab, “Game of Thrones” has been the No. 1 show targeted by cybercriminals in each of the past two years. In 2018, the show was responsible for 17% of all infected pirate content with nearly 21,000 users hit. AMC’s “The Walking Dead” ranked second on the list with 18,794 users attacked, and “Arrow” was third with 12,163 hits.

How to Avoid Torrented Malware

The easiest answer is to simply avoid torrenting sites and other illegal channels, but it’s obvious that won’t be happening anytime soon. As of October 2018, torrenting accounted for the fifth-largest amount of Internet traffic in the world, more than Hulu or even HBO itself. In the Asia-Pacific region torrenting makes up more than one-third of all Internet traffic.

The best of these will warn you before you open the said file that there is something in it that could harm your system. Although you might need to actually disable the malware detector to run torrenting software, as they often set off warnings in each other.

Another tip is to use a virtual private network (VPN) when you are torrenting files. This allows you to encrypt the data you are receiving and sending, covering up your IP address and any other personal information that might be easily accessible.

Finally, for the good of the online community, if you do end up downloading files containing malware on them, flag them on the torrenting site and alert others as to their presence as well as who originally uploaded the file. This can help reduce the number of files online that contain malicious software as well as promote awareness of users who are uploading malware to wreak havoc on others.


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