Millions of people watch “Game of Thrones,” and reports regularly cite it as the most pirated show on television. Which is why it’s no surprise that a wave of cyber attacks are targeting fans as sneakily as an assassin trained by followers of the Many-Faced God.
According to Consumerist, scammers have been sending out phishing emails in massive quantities, cleverly disguising them as copyright notices from HBO.
“We have received information leading us to believe that an individual has utilized the IP address … at the noted data and time below to host and/or facilitate the downloading and/or streaming of content … in which Home Box Office, Inc. is the copyright owner,” reads one such email. It then urges you to click on a link where you’ll be presented with “a settlement offer that we feel is reasonable for both you and the copyright holder.”
Also included in such legal-sounding emails is a threat that you have 72 hours to agree to the settlement, or risk “legal action.”
Your first thought might be “You’d have to be dumber than Rickon Stark running in a straight line to fall for this scam,” and you’d be right. But keep in mind that phishing scammers work off sheer numbers: If thousands and thousands of these emails go out around the world and a tiny percentage of one percent fall for it, they’ve made enough ill-gotten gains to justify their effort. Plus, it’s very difficult for police to prosecute these often-overseas perpetrators.
The site TorrentFreak spoke to a firm that does enforce piracy for HBO, and they confirmed that the emails are a phishing attempt.
So, what can you do to protect yourself against this “Game of Thrones” scam? First, realize that if HBO was truly targeting you for piracy, you’d receive far more than a simple email. Secondly, remember that clicking on an unsolicited link and then sending it money is pretty much never a good idea. Third, make sure that you’re watching “Thrones” in a legitimate manner — and then you’ll be as carefree as Cersei watching her enemies burning to death.