Skip to main content

Illegal Movie Downloads Can Give Your Device Malware

By May 9, 2020May 5th, 2022Cybersecurity

If you’re like a lot of people stuck at home during the pandemic, you probably ran out of Netflix titles to watch a couple of weeks ago.

As a result, researchers have noted a huge surge in traffic to torrent sites as more and more people are drawn to downloading movies illegally in search of additional entertainment.

Hackers around the world have also noted the trend, and they’re never a group to miss an opportunity. They’ve been increasing the number of poisoned movie files on the various torrent lists. In fact, the issue of poisoned video files has become such a problem that it has caught the attention of Microsoft.

Microsoft had this to say about it:

With lockdown still in place in many parts of the world, attackers are paying attention to the increase in use of pirate streaming services and torrent downloads. We saw an active coin miner campaign that inserts a malicious VBScript into ZIP files posing as movie downloads. The use of torrent downloads is consistent with our observation that attackers are repurposing old techniques to take advantage of the current crisis.”

Indeed they are, and cryptocurrency mining software is the least of it. It will tie up an increasing percentage of your system’s resources, but it won’t cause any active harm beyond that. Of course, nothing says that the hackers have to stop there, and many aren’t. They can insert any sort of malware they like into the ZIP file, from ransomware to keyloggers and more.

The hackers tend to focus on new releases and highly popular movie titles. So, if you’re a fan of older movies, or B-movies, your risks are somewhat lower. Even so, if you want to avoid the issue altogether, your best bet is to stick with legitimate sites to satisfy your viewing habit.

Chris Forte

Chris Forte, President and CEO of Olmec Systems, has been in the MSP workspace for the past 25 years. Chris earned his Master’s Degree from West Virginia University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. He was a past member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a current member of the New Jersey Power Partners and Executive Association of New Jersey, where he has previously served on its board of directors. In his spare time, Chris enjoys traveling with his family. He also admits to being a struggling golfer and avid watcher of college football and basketball. He currently lives in Boonton Township, NJ with his wife, two daughters, son, and black lab Luna.