The recent FIFA World Cup brought out another round of bad actors capitalizing on the streaming demand of the popular games.
Instead of delivering a link to a legit way of watching, those who took the bait are sent to malicious sites that install malware on devices.
That’s the trouble with linking to what appear to be free streams and downloads of movies, video and music sources.
Blind linking can lead to more danger for your device than you may realize.
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What is the risk of downloading movies illegally?
Criminals and hackers everywhere want to make it their mission to trick people into giving them their money, private information, or both. They do this with movies and popular online entertainment by providing downloadable links that look super convincing. People who end up clicking them usually think that they’ll 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 overtime to figure out ways for these downloadable files to sneak past any kind of antivirus software that may stop them in their tracks.
What will happen to my device?
The change in your device may not happen immediately when you try downloading these pirated films. But eventually, you may notice your device becoming much slower, random apps opening and closing without your knowledge, and even your battery draining quickly.
For example, back in 2021, ReasonLabs found a new form of malware disguising itself as a way to watch the latest SpiderMan film 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 online currencies.
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When consumers would download this file, the code would exclude antivirus software to keep it from tracking any suspicious activity and would mine the cryptocurrency Monero (XMR). You can imagine how much of a headache this caused for anyone who thought they were just getting an opportunity to watch a new film 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 by installing 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 & iOS devices by searching ‘Best Antivirus’ at CyberGuy.com.
Is there a website I can use to check if the file is malicious?
Yes, and it’s called VirusTotal.com. This website is owned by Google and is able to scan links to files that could have malware. All you have to do is follow these steps:
- Get the direct link to the download file and copy it by right-clicking on the link and selecting Copy (careful not to accidentally click and open the link).
- Go to VirusTotal.com
- Click the URL tab and paste the link into the box
- Press Search to start scanning
- VirusTotal will give you the result
Extra word of caution: If you’re going to use VirusTotal.com, be sure to have your antivirus running in the background just in case you accidentally click that link.
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