Geeks and sci-fi fans beware! Scammers are using the current hype surrounding the movies "Iron Man 3" and "Star Trek Into Darkness" to trick people into downloading dangerous software.
Security blog TrendLabs is reporting they've found more than a hundred websites that claim to let people stream or download bootleg copies of "Iron Man 3," which comes out in theaters today (May 3).
These sites will prompt users to download and install a video player, which should be a major red flag; downloading, torrenting or streaming a movie file, even illegally, does not require a separate video player.
The video players on these purported "Iron Man 3" sites by and large worked, but they could easily be replaced with malware in the future. And no, by and large they won't actually let you watch the movie.
Especially alarming is the fact that most of these sites use very well-known and trusted free blog providers, which might make more trusting Internet users think they're legit. TrendLabs also found that half of the scam websites were hosted on Tumblr, a blogging platform well-known for its active fan communities.
"Star Trek Into Darkness" isn't even out yet, but the much-anticipated movie is also being used as everything from irritating linkbait to vulnerable and useless downloads.
[See also: Suckers! A Decade of Successful Internet Scams]
Security blog ThreatTrack has cataloged multiple examples of these scams, including Tweets with enticing claims such as "Alice Eve Seduces Chris Pine in Brand New Star Trek Into Darkness Clip," and then, just for good measure, the #justinbieber hashtag thrown in as well.
Irresistible, right? Well, the accompanying link merely brings you to a page bearing ads for the movie's tie-in online multiplayer game.
But that's fairly benign compared to another wave of scams found on YouTube that snag unsavvy users by claiming you can "watch this movie now." These videos are nothing but advertisements for subscription-based streaming services — and to add insult to irritation, these services don't even offer the advertised movie.
Still other sites will use the promise of "Star Trek Into Darkness" to trick you into taking surveys that generate cash for the posters, or worse, to download unsafe video players or other software that, like in the above-mentioned "Iron Man 3" scams, will leave your computer vulnerable to malware.
Fortunately, these threats are easy to avoid — don't go looking for illegal online versions of "Iron Man 3" or "Star Trek Into Darkness." You can keep your computer safe, and support your favorite Hollywood-provided geekery, by just paying to see the films in theaters.
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