Two reports released in 2020 identify techniques cybercriminals use to steal information from, and spread malware to, unsuspecting people searching for pirated TV and film.
Kaspersky, an industry leading, global cybersecurity company, documents how cybercriminals use the promise of free, Academy Award nominated films to bait people into disclosing private information and downloading malware.
Following the release of 2020’s Best Picture nominees, Kaspersky found 20 phishing websites and Twitter accounts designed to trick visitors into providing personal information—sometimes credit card numbers—by making such disclosures a prerequisite to accessing a download of a nominated film. Once victims enter the required information there is no payoff, no free pirated movie, just the danger that their sensitive information will be used for illegal purposes.
Another scam involves scattering malicious files across the internet disguised as downloadable film files. Kaspersky found 925 such files identified as free copies of Joker, 1917, The Irishman, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and other best picture contenders. When an unsuspecting victim attempts to download a free film, they instead download malware that infiltrates their devices and network, and from there can do a wide variety of harms.
The second report, published this year in the Journal of Internet Electronic Commerce Research reveals that an increase in buzz on social media about a television show immediately increases demand for pirated downloads of that show.
Taken together, these reports highlight the risks of attempting to access “free,” in demand films and television shows, particularly those trending on social media. Cybercriminals have their fingers on the pulse of public desires, and they’re always ready to lay more traps. Which means that the only way to download movies safely, or download television risk free, is from a reputable, licensed provider.