Malware Is Coming: How Game of Thrones Could Infect Your PC

Game of Thrones fans, beware. According to a new report from Kaspersky Lab, HBO's sword-and-sorcery drama was the most dangerous show to pirate last year.

Credit: HBO

(Image credit: HBO)

Along with Arrow and The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones was the show most often used to infect computers with malware. In fact, Game of Thrones accounted for 17 percent of all infected pirated content in 2018, attacking 20,934 users, despite the fact that no new episodes of the show were released.

The first and last episode of each season were the most dangerous to download, with the series premier, Winter is Coming, topping the list.

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If you've ever attempted to pirate a media file, you probably know how the game works. Users download a file from an alleged streaming website, thinking it's an episode of their favorite show, and it turns out to be malware with a very similar name. Kaspersky Lab reports that these are most often Trojans, malware disguised as legitimate software that grant cybercriminals access to your system.

While this report pulls data from 2018, Kaspersky researchers expect a new wave of malicious activity this year. Not only will non-HBO users be turning out in droves to pirate the new season (coming April 14), but they'll likely be binging previous episodes in the weeks leading up to the premier. Given all the hype, new viewers may be drawn to try out the series for the first time.

Remember, it's always safer to stream content through legitimate sources. But if you insist on pirating, pay close attention to the source of your downloads. Read the comments about downloadable files, don't click any suspicious links, don't download any files ending in .exe  and scan everything with your antivirus software before you open it.

Monica Chin is a writer at The Verge, covering computers. Previously, she was a staff writer for Tom's Guide, where she wrote about everything from artificial intelligence to social media and the internet of things to. She had a particular focus on smart home, reviewing multiple devices. In her downtime, you can usually find her at poetry slams, attempting to exercise, or yelling at people on Twitter.