Posted on May 2, 2020 at 11:22 AM
Microsoft has warned against the threat cyber criminals are posing in streaming sites, after the recent malware discovered in some torrent downloads.
With more people spending more time at home streaming movies and watching TV as a result of COVID-19, torrents and streaming sites have received more popularity and interests. There are increased downloads for music, games, and movies from sites, as people look for ways to pass time during this lockdown period. But cybercriminals are always looking for ways to take advantage of the current situational lifestyle.
They are increasingly attaching malware to popular movies for people to download. Once the victims download the infected movies, the malware goes straight to damage their device or computer.
Torrent downloads have doubled since COVID-19
Several sites have revealed that the number of torrent downloads has doubled since governments of different countries in the world imposed lockdown rules. More people are staying at home and they have to keep themselves busy somehow. As a result, more people visit torrents and online movie streaming sites.
The BBC reposted a report made by Muso, a piracy-monitoring firm, that the number of people who visit film-piracy sites in Spain has doubled since the lockdown in many countries began. In the US, the number has increased by 41% while other countries have recorded impressive results hovering around a 40% increase in online piracy streaming.
According to vice president of Tripwire, Tim Erlin, with the massive rise of people who are streaming from their homes, it’s not a surprise that hackers have taken advantage of the target-rich environment.
There are unlimited methods of getting through to the victims at this time, and the hackers are exploiting as much as they can to infect systems. They are using old methods as well as new tricks to get users to click to their malware-infested files, Tim said.
They are attaching malware in illegal contents such as in apps, music, movies, and other torrent downloads. Tim said many of the hackers chose to infect the illegal streaming sites because of the type of people who are downloading from the sites.
Most people streaming from illegal sites will not be as careful as others when it comes to risk management. They are more risk-tolerant and may not be much interested in knowing whether the content is malware-free or not, Tim said.
Spain and some South American countries mostly affected
Recently on Twitter, the security intelligence unit at Microsoft described how these criminals have been going about infiltrating torrent downloads. The security team revealed that some hackers have attached malware to torrents of movies like “Contagion”, and “John Wick” in Mexico, Spain, and some other South American countries.
According to Microsoft, the increased movie downloads caused by the current lockdown in many parts of the world have encouraged attackers to infect streaming services. Right now, they are paying more attention to torrent downloads and streaming services.
We saw an active coin miner campaign that inserts a malicious VBScript into ZIP files posing as movie downloads,” the security team revealed on Twitter.
Microsoft further pointed out that although the malware was discovered in Spain, the attackers have also infested devices in South American countries. The team reiterated that there are spikes of malware attack as the campaign is affecting not only users at home but enterprises as well.
Preventing the malware attack
Tanmay Ganacharya, director of security research at Microsoft, reiterated that the malware used by hackers on these platforms is very common, as the technique used is an old one. Tanmay said many hackers have used this technique in the past, and others have upgraded the technique to make them look more potent.
He further suggested that people should use sophisticated security systems and modern operating systems to protect their devices against all forms of malware attack. They should use security systems that utilize machine-learning algorithms to easily identify threats and stop them before they cause any damage to their computers or devices.