Increased use of streaming video services prompted by coronavirus-driven shelter-in-place orders and a tsunami of work-at-home employees has presented cyber criminals with new opportunities to launch attacks, a new report said.
The evil doers are using popular streaming platforms such as Disney+, Hulu and Netflix to tempt potential victims into accessing malicious files impersonating the real shows, security specialist Kaspersky said.
From January, 2019 to April, 2020, some 5,000 users of its solutions were exposed to various threats while attempting to gain access to Netflix via unofficial files that used its name. In total, more than 22,000 infection attempts used Netflix as a lure. Among original content playing on streaming platforms, The Mandalorian, a live-action Star Wars television series on Disney+, was most frequently exploited by hackers with roughly 1,614 Kaspersky users exposed from 5,855 infection attempts.
Streaming Services: How Hackers Seek Unauthorized
Among the five major streaming platforms--Hulu, Disney +, Netflix, Apple TV Plus and Amazon Prime Video--a total of 5,577 Kaspersky users were exposed to threats from hackers attempting to gain unauthorized access. Netflix drew the highest number of threats by hackers. In total, hackers made about 24,000 attempts to infect users with various threats, the data showed.
The threats range from phishing attacks to steal account credentials and financial information to tricking users into downloading adware and malware. Spyware, which enables cyber criminals to steal personal information on a user’s computer by tracking actions on an infected device, was among trojan threats users encountered, the data showed.
As for original content on the main streaming services, in addition to The Mandalorian, cyber criminals also used Stranger Things (Netflix), The Witcher (Netflix), Sex Education (Netflix) and Orange is the New Black (Netflix). A total of 4,502 Kaspersky users were exposed to threats via malicious files that contained the name of one of these five shows to entice victims, with a total of 18,947 infection attempts registered, Kaspersky said.
“The so-called ‘streaming wars’ have only just begun, and as the popularity of these platforms grows, so too will the attention they receive from malicious users,” said Anton Ivanov, Kaspersky malware analyst. “This is particularly true since many of the platforms are experiencing unprecedented growth as a result of stay-at-home orders and employees being forced to work from home,” he said.
Streaming Services: Basic Security Recommendations
To stay safe from various threats when watching streaming platforms or their original content, Kaspersky recommends:
- Whenever possible, only access streaming platforms via your own, paid subscription on the official website or app from official marketplaces.
- Do not download any unofficial versions or modifications of these platforms’ applications.
- Use different, strong passwords for each of your accounts.