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TV series fans, beware of online tricksters

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The latest entry point into the computers of Internet users are malicious subtitles.

Often hosted on partially secure third-party sites, the subtitle ecosystem contains more than 25 different formats. It is an extremely fragmented market, sprinkled with vulnerabilities – in other words, a very conducive environment for cybercrime to thrive.

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TV series fans, beware of online tricksters

  1. 1. TV series fans, beware of online tricksters Cybersecurity researchers have recently discovered that millions of media player users are currently undergoing a new wave of cyber-attacks. Back in the ‘90s, more than 10 million people watched the first season of the mystery-drama series « Twin Peaks » on their home television. 15 years later, the series based on the imaginary world of George R. R. Martin, « Game of Thrones » set out to beat all the records with an insane audience of 10 million people… per episode. How does one explain such an impressive jump? With the dawn of online streaming in 1995, audience numbers radically changed. People were no longer restricted to seek out entertainment solely on their TVs. Anyone with an internet connection could just as easily choose a streaming service and watch Daenarys slay the masters with her dragons. With over 180 millions people committed to watching online series, the binge-watcher market is today an attractive target for hackers all over the world and, thus, an infinite source of worry for cybersecurity experts. WATCH OUT FOR THOSE SUBTITLES The latest entry point into the computers of Internet users are malicious subtitles. A demo of the attack is available on YouTube (« Hacked in Translation », see here). Often hosted on partially secure third-party sites, the subtitle ecosystem contains more than 25 different formats. It is an extremely fragmented market, sprinkled with vulnerabilities – in other words, a very conducive environment for cybercrime to thrive. Knowing that certain media players are configured by default to automatically download subtitles, hackers can take remote control of infected devices without any interaction whatsoever on behalf of the users. It may be a good idea to disable this feature and make sure that your subtitles are downloaded from a trusted source. HOW MANY INFECTED USERS? If you’re more into « Netflix & Chill », then you can rest assured. The only ones concerned are VLC, Kodi XBMC, Popcorn Time and Stremio users. However, the number of potential victims is not to be ignored. To get an idea of the proportions that such an attack could reach, know that the latest version of VLC player has been downloaded more than 170 million times and that the number of Kodi, Popcorn Time and Stremio users exceeds the order of tens of millions. SHOULD WE ALL JUST STOP STREAMING?

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