Who's the most dangerous streaming-video character out there? The Mandalorian, that's who!
So says Russian antivirus firm Kaspersky, which has concluded that the Star Wars character's eponymous Disney Plus series is among the streaming shows and movies most frequently used by cybercriminals when they're trying to trick unsuspecting victims into installing malware, or luring victims to phishing websites.
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"It appears that this great show attracts not only viewers around the world but also cybercriminal interest," said Anton V. Ivanov, head of Kaspersky's Advanced Threats Research and Detection Team.
Among the most highly acclaimed streaming movies and TV shows up for awards consideration in 2021, The Mandalorian snagged 68% of all malware-infection attempts observed by Kaspersky in the first three weeks of January.
Netflix's chess thriller The Queen's Gambit was a distant second with only 11%, while stablemate Ozark was third with 6%.
Things were a little more balanced in February. The Mandalorian was still tops, but its share of malware-infection attempts had dropped to 33%, while The Queen's Gambit's slice rose to 19%. In third place, Ozark was usurped by the Andy Samberg time-loop comedy Palm Springs, which had 14%.
Good old-fashioned phishing scams using streaming content had their place too. Kaspersky found one offering up streams and downloads of the Carey Mulligan revenge comedy-drama Promising Young Woman, as seen below.
Such bogus streams are really trying to steal passwords and credit cards, Kaspersky noted.
It goes without saying that most of these scams are related to dodgy websites where people try to watch paid content for free. We'll skip the moralizing, but please remember that while some pirated-content sites and streams are safe to watch, you can never be sure. It's far safer to just pay up and watch that movie or TV show through legal avenues.
If you really must watch pirated content, then take precautions. Install one of the best antivirus products on your PC or Mac to catch any malicious files that might piggyback on your stream. Use that antivirus software to scan anything you download BEFORE you install that movie player, or play that file.
As Kaspersky warns, you should also check the file extension of what you're downloading: "A video file will never have an .exe or .msi extension."