Cybersecurity experts sound alarm about malware-ridden free streams of Oscar-nominated films


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Many are rolling out the red carpet to honor some of the top films in Hollywood at this year’s Oscars. But, with the ceremony around the corner, cybersecurity experts are warning of malware disguised as Oscar-nominated films.

“We’ve been seeing it advertised like crazy,” Giovanni Masucci of National Digital Forensics said. “They’re out and now we see these nominees. It piques interest.”

Masucci is getting the word out about the warning.

Researchers at the cybersecurity firm Kaspersky told CBS 17 they found more than 20 phishing sites and Twitter accounts, as well as 925 malicious files presented as free movies.

According to Kaspersky, these sites gather data while having users do tasks like taking a survey, sharing personal details, installing adware, or even giving up credit card information.

“This is something that we’ve seen for the first time,” Kaspersky researcher Dmitry Bestuzhev said. “They use social networks, and they’ll look for big trends, like hashtags and other trends social networks may have in order to show what is the most popular between users.”

Kaspersky researchers found the film “Joker” most popular with cybercriminals with 304 malicious files, followed by “1917” with 215 files and “The Irishman” with 179 files.

“Those have been the most sought after movies that people go watch and are looking to stream,” Masucci said.

Masucci told CBS 17 the malware can cause many problems.

“It mitigates into your computer system and it goes not only to yours. If you’re on a network, it can jump to other computers on that network or take advantage of your contacts (and) your emails,” he said.

Which is why Masucci and others believes it’s important to think before clicking.

“Of course, you’d love to get something free, but free isn’t always free,” Masucci said.

Masucci recommends being careful of any site offering free movie streams and going to legitimate, well-known streaming websites.

He also suggests having some sort of anti-virus protection on devices.

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