“Joker” was the most popular movie to be used as a malware lure among threat actors.
Researchers at Kaspersky studied malware being shared under the pretense of this year’s Oscar award-nominated films, in an effort to better understand how threat actors capitalise on the public interest in high-profile movies.
It was found that more than 20 phishing websites and 925 malicious files were “presented as free movies, only to attack the user.”
Numerous phishing websites and Twitter accounts gathering users’ data and prompting them to carry out tasks in order to gain access to the desired film, was uncovered. The tasks include completing a survey and sharing personal details, to installing adware.
In order to promote their fraudulent website, threat actors created Twitter accounts where they distributed links to the content.
Kaspersky researchers found that “Joker” was the most popular film among threat actors, to which 304 malicious files were named after the film. The second most popular film was “1917” with 215 malicious files, followed by “The Irishman” with 179 files.
“Cybercriminals aren’t exactly tied to the dates of film premieres, as they are not really distributing any content except for malicious data,” said Anton Ivanov, Kaspersky malware analyst.
“However, as they always prey on something when it becomes a hot trend, they depend on users’ demand and actual file availability. To avoid being tricked by criminals, stick to legal streaming platforms and subscriptions to ensure you can enjoy a nice evening in front of the TV without having to worry about any threats.”
To avoid falling victim, users are urged to not click on suspicious link, such as those promising early access to view a new film. In addition, pay attention to the official movie release dates in theaters, steaming services, TV, DVD or other sources.
Other recommendations include:
- Look at the downloaded file extension. Even if you are going to download a video file from a source you consider trusted and legitimate, the file should have an .avi, .mkv or .mp4 extension, or other video formats; definitely not .exe.
- Check the website’s authenticity. Do not visit websites allowing you to watch a movie until you are sure that they are legitimate and start with https. Confirm that the website is genuine, by double-checking the format of the URL or the spelling of the company name, reading reviews about it and checking the domain’s registration data before starting downloads.