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Hackers' latest trick looks like free movie streaming

The recent FIFA World Cup brought another round of bad actors capitalizing on the streaming demand for popular games.

Rather than providing a link to a legitimate way to watch, those who took the bait are sent to malicious websites that install malware on their devices.

That’s the problem with linking to what appear to be free streams and source downloads of movies, videos and music.

Blind linking can lead to more dangers for your device than you can imagine.

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Criminals and hackers everywhere make it their mission to trick people into giving them money, private information, or both.

Criminals and hackers everywhere make it their mission to trick people into giving them money, private information, or both.
(Kurt Knutson)

What is the risk of downloading movies illegally?

Criminals and hackers everywhere make it their mission to trick people into giving them money, private information, or both. They do this with movies and popular online entertainment, providing download links that look super convincing. People who end up clicking on them often think that they will be able to consume what they want to watch at no cost.

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In reality, many of these links contain all kinds of malware that will give the hacker access to your information. And what’s worse, hackers are working around the clock to figure out ways to sneak these downloadable files past any kind of antivirus software that might stop them from proceeding.

What will happen to my device?

The change on your device might not happen immediately when you try to download these pirated movies. But eventually, you may notice that your device is running a lot slower, random apps opening and closing without your knowledge, and even your battery draining quickly.

For example, in 2021, ReasonLabs found a new form of malware disguising itself as a way to watch the latest Spider-Man movie for free online while it was still in theaters. It was a malicious file containing cryptocurrency mining malware, which can steal your device’s resources and hunt for coins online.

See my expert review of the best antivirus protection for Windows, Mac, Android and Android.  iOS devices by searching 'Best Antivirus' on CyberGuy.com.

See my expert review of the best antivirus protection for Windows, Mac, Android and Android. iOS devices by searching ‘Best Antivirus’ on CyberGuy.com.
(Kurt Knutson)

SURPRISINGLY, THIS APP IS CAUSING ALMOST 50% OF MAC MALWARE — DELETE IT NOW

When consumers downloaded this file, the code would delete the antivirus software to prevent it from tracking any suspicious activity and mine the Monero (XMR) cryptocurrency. You can imagine how much heartache this caused for anyone who thought they were just getting the opportunity to watch a new movie for free.

How can I protect my device from malicious files?

The most important and necessary way for you to protect your device from all types of malware is to install solid antivirus software. Downloading antivirus software will allow you to scan any file on your computer for malware before you make the mistake of clicking on it.

See my expert review of the best antivirus protection for your Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices by searching ‘Best Antivirus’ on CyberGuy.com.

Is there a website I can use to check if the file is malicious?

Yes, and it’s called VirusTotal.com. This site is owned by Google and may check for links to files that may contain malware. All you need to do is follow these steps:

  • Get the direct link to the download file and copy it by right-clicking the link and selecting Copy (be careful not to accidentally click and open the link).
  • Go to VirusTotal.com
  • Click on the URL tab and paste the link in the box
  • Press Search to start scanning
  • VirusTotal will give you the result

Extra word of caution: If you are going to use VirusTotal.com make sure you have your antivirus running in the background just in case you accidentally click on that link.

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