Downloading Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker online could put your device and information at risk, cybersecurity company Kaspersky warns. As reported by TechRepublic, there are upwards of 65 malicious files disguised as free copies of the movie, and Kaspersky researchers have identified over 30 phishing websites and social media profiles masquerading as real accounts distributing supposedly free copies of the film that released into theaters Thursday. According to Kaspersky, the fraudulent sites spread malicious files and collect credit card data by tricking users who register with the portal to access the film, and the deception is a payoff to hype surrounding Star Wars for much of 2019.
Kaspersky researchers report 285,103 attempts to infect 37,772 users trying to access Star Wars movies in 2019, a reported 10% rise over 2018, when Disney-Lucasfilm released Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Kaspersky points out torrent-trackers and illegal streaming platforms can be dangerous because they often host malicious files disguised as movie files to trick users into downloading. According to TechRepublic:
The process works by copying the official name of a film and providing thorough descriptions and supporting content. Then a cyberattacker creates domains of websites used to gather personal data, and spread malicious files, and dupe users into believing that the website is in some way connected to the official film. This practice, known as "black SEO," enables criminals to promote phishing websites high up in search engine results. These results often show up for search terms such as "name-of-the-film watch free," Kaspersky said.
The dangerous content is also being spread through fake social media accounts, including Twitter pages, where cybercriminals distribute links to the “free movies.” Kaspersky reports 83 users have fallen victim to 65 malicious files posing as The Rise of Skywalker.
"It is typical for fraudsters and cybercriminals to try to capitalize on popular topics, and Star Wars is a good example of such a theme this month," said Kaspersky security researcher Tatiana Sidorina. "As attackers manage to push malicious websites and content up in the search results, fans need to remain cautious at all times. We advise users to not fall for such scams and instead enjoy the end of the saga on the big screen."
Touted as the finale of the Skywalker Saga, The Rise of Skywalker opened over the weekend and grossed $175.5 million domestically and $373 million worldwide, giving it the lowest opening of the sequel trilogy.
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.