The new blockbuster Star Wars film, The Rise of Skywalker, has just landed in cinemas with it set to break more box office records. Although many fans will be packing the popcorn and heading to the cinema to watch this latest instalment of the space-themed epic, some may decide to beat paying the admission fee and attempt to illegally view things online instead.
Illegal torrents and streams remain hugely popular despite the constant warnings that surround them but fans of the Star Wars franchise might want to take the latest threats more seriously.
The team at cyber security firm Kaspersky say they have found a large number of sites and social media profiles disguised as official movie accounts.
These online platforms claim to allow fans to watch the latest Star Wars movie for free but they could leave unsuspecting viewers with a nasty shock.
According to Kaspersky’s research, many of these websites collect unwary users’ credit card data, under the pretence of necessary registration on the portal.
To make things appear more official, the domains of fake websites usually copy the official name of the film and provide thorough descriptions and supporting content, thereby fooling users into believing that the website is, in some way, connected to the official film.
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Such practice is called “black SEO,” which enables criminals to promote phishing websites high up in search engine results (such results often show up for search terms such as ‘name-of-the-film watch free’).
To further support the promotion of fraudulent websites, cyber criminals also set up Twitter and other social media accounts, where they distribute links to the content. Coupled with malicious files shared on torrents, this brings the online crooks huge results. So far, almost 100 users have already been affected by 65 malicious files disguised as copies of the upcoming movie.
Speaking about the threat, Tatiana Sidorina, security researcher at Kaspersky, said: “It is typical for fraudsters and cybercriminals to try to capitalise on popular topics, and ‘Star Wars’ is a good example of such a theme this month.
“As attackers manage to push malicious websites and content up in the search results, fans need to remain cautious at all times. We advise users to not fall for such scams and instead enjoy the end of the saga on the big screen.”
To avoid falling victim to malicious programs pretending to be popular films or TV shows, Kaspersky has revealed some top tips for staying safe online:
• Pay attention to the official movie release dates in theatres, on streaming services, TV, DVD, or other sources
• Don’t click on suspicious links, such as those promising an early view of a new film
• 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, among 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 domains’ registration data before starting downloads
• Use a reliable security solution, such as Kaspersky Security Cloud, for comprehensive protection from a wide range of threats