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Game Of Thrones fans should be cautious of malware profiteering from the increase in torrent usage
Game Of Thrones season 7 debuted in the United States last night, with Sky Atlantic broadcasting the hotly-anticipated new episode simultaneously at 2am GMT.
The first episode of the new season – entitled “Dragonstone” – will also be shown at 9am on Sky Atlantic tonight.
NOW TV customers (who are set for a price rise next month) can tune-in to the series opener when it is broadcast or stream the episode on-demand.
An additional 3.7 million Britons are planning to illegally watch the HBO show, a new study has revealed.
One in five – some 21.2 per cent of the 2,000 British adults surveyed – admitted they plan to tune-in illegally by downloading, streaming or borrowing an illegally-obtained copy from a friend.
According to the data, 61 per cent of millennials will watch the new season, but one in three will not pay for the hit show.
More men will watch the show illegally than women.
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Top 10 most pirated movies of the week leading up to July 3 2017, according to Torrent Freak
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1. Kong: Skull Island
The study was commissioned by personal finance comparison website finder.com.
Finder CEO Jon Ostler said: “The number of people planning to illegally download the new Game of Thrones season is surprising, but it’s not a shock that it’s a much higher number than in the U.S.
“This high piracy rate could be a result of the price of subscription services, or could just come down to the ease and convenience of having your own copy for free.
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“No matter how tempting it can be to do whatever it takes to keep up-to-date on your favourite series, piracy remains a serious offence.
“There are a number of services which offer GoT as soon as it comes out.”
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More than 3.7 million Britons aim to watch Game Of Thrones illegally, a new study has shown
Game of Thrones has always been incredibly popular with pirates. It has been named the most pirated show on the internet for the last five years.
However, a terrifying computer virus that targeted Game of Thrones fans on torrent site The Pirate Bay last year should be a cautionary tale for anyone considering downloading the show by illegal methods.
Following the season 6 premiere last year, ransomware was introduced on The Pirate Bay to coincide with the influx of users looking to download Game Of Thrones episodes.
A fraudulent advertiser on The Pirate Bay used a pop-under advertisement to quietly redirect users and infect them with Cerber ransomware.
Security firm Malwarebytes discovered the threat, which used a victim’s vulnerable browser plugins to silently download a malicious payload to a system.
"Popular torrent site The Pirate Bay was serving ransomware via a malvertising attack this week-end.
"The ad network changes but the modus operandi remains the same," Malwarebytes security researcher Jerome Segura said.
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Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in pictures.
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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in pictures
What made this ransomware so dangerous was the fact that users could become infected without even clicking on anything on the website.
The malicious malvertising campaign stealthily identified and attacked vulnerable browsers, targeting all users not running script blockers with the Pirate Bay ads, according to Malwarebytes.
Security Specialist at ESET, Mark James said: "Most users associate being infected by going to a dodgy website and downloading a dodgy file, or browsing a website and choosing to download a file that is bad.
"However, when presented with a scenario that’s capable of infecting them without any visible interaction on their behalf, the end user is often baffled by ‘how it happened’.”
The news comes as The Pirate Bay this month regained a spot amongst the 100 most-visited websites worldwide for the first time in three years.
Pirate Bay has re-entered the 100 most-visited websites worldwide for the first time in three years
The Pirate Bay had plummeted from the 100 most-visited sites back in 2014 after suffering more than a month of downtime.
This led many of its users to seek out alternatives. But in recent months, the notorious torrent site has seen a uptick in visitors – and now ranks in 99th place in the top 100 domains, as compiled by internet traffic ranking service Alexa.
Exactly how many people use The Pirate Bay is unknown, but estimates from SimilarWeb place it at around a quarter billion visits each month.
The surge in users follows the shutdown of Kickass Torrents and Torrentz last year. ExtraTorrent also closed its domain back in May 2017.
First launched in November 2006, ExtraTorrent had became the world's second largest torrent index after The Pirate Bay. Millions visited the community each day.
Following its closure this month, an exodus of torrent users have flooded rival sites.
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Game of Thrones series 7: Here's the exciting first look at Jon Snow & Daenerys Targaryen in action.
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Game of Thrones series 7: First look
According to blog TorrentFreak, The Pirate Bay received so many new users following the ExtraTorrent shutdown that it caused “Gateway Errors,” rendering the website temporarily unreachable for many users.
The infamous torrent website confirmed to TorrentFreak that it had seen a surge in new visitors. Another rival torrent site, which refused to be named by TorrentFreak, reported a similar uptake.
More than 40 per cent of new visitors flooding torrent sites originate in India, where ExtraTorrent had a substantial following.
ExtraTorrent never confirmed why it decided to shut down, but has made it clear that the website will not return.
The torrent repository replaced its homepage with a simple message that read: "ExtraTorrent has shut down permanently.
"ExtraTorrent with all mirrors goes offline.. We permanently erase all data.
"Stay away from fake ExtraTorrent websites and clones. Thx to all ET supporters and torrent community. ET was a place to be….”