The legitimate websites include fan pages, online games or small shopping sites, looking for potential customers.
The long night has finally ended. Game of Thrones fans can finally come in from the cold and, like a starving dragon, start devouring the latest and final season of the massively popular TV show. But unlike the fantasy series, what is far more real is the plethora of phishing scams facing enthusiasts.
While there have been many such deceptions, from malware via pirate torrent sites to phishing scams, Check Point Research recently came across the latest in this line of malicious activities bent on taking advantage of unsuspecting fans. There are many sites that use the official branding of the show to poses as legitimate competition for fans to win a special gift pack of GoT merchandise. There is, however, no such prize and the site instead collects as many emails and mobile phone details as possible that could possibly be used in the future spamming campaign.
While many may claim to be able to tell the difference between a real site and a fake site, the use of well recognized and trusted brands, like Game of Thrones, is the preferred method for encouraging the user that the impersonated email or website is trustworthy. The websites we observed using the Game of Thrones brand could be split into two main categories- Legitimate or fraudulent websites. While both categories use the popularity of the brand to lure users in, their motivation is different. The legitimate websites include fan pages, online games or small shopping sites, looking for potential customers or new community members.
The fraudulent websites, on the other hand, exploit the popularity of the brand to display ads, acquire personal information or convince the user to install an unwanted program.
These fraudulent websites mostly include sites requesting personal information for marketing opportunities, and fake streaming sites, requesting the user to download a browser add-on and provide personal information, while no streaming content is displayed at the end of the process.
ThreatGuard is a SaaS product that scans an organization’s assets on the web and notifies them when threats such as lookalike domains, exposed accounts, detected CVEs and open risky ports are detected. To find sites exploiting the popularity of Game of Thrones, we used the lookalike domains functionality.
ThreatGuard allowed us to locate lookalike domains in a very short amount of time and focus our research on the deeper threat analysis. We initially added a ‘gameofthrones’ query into ThreatGuard and got tons of results. After expending the search to more common words related to the Game of Thrones series, such as names of characters and known quotes, we found a lot of other related domains.
There are ways, of course, to prevent being the next victim of a phishing attack. These include:
1. Think before you click. Clicking on links on trusted sites should be totally fine. Links that appear in random emails and instant messages, however, isn’t going to end well. Hovering over links that you are unsure of before clicking on them will tell you if they lead to where you’re expecting.
2. Make sure a site’s URL begins with “https” and there is a closed lock icon near the address bar.
3. Check the site’s domain name is the site you are expecting to visit and trust. If it is not then you could be about to become the next victim of a phishing scam.
4. Make sure you have an advanced threat prevention solution such as Check Point’s SandBlast Agent zero-phishing protection.