Amidst the peak of the Barbie movie craze, researchers from online protection company, McAfee have discovered a slew of new online scams as cybercriminals look to cash in on the summer blockbuster. Following a record-breaking opening weekend, McAfee is encouraging caution as consumers search Barbie-related Items online and may be more vulnerable to falling for a scam.
Cybercriminals are hoping to bait consumers with a rash of new scams that have cropped up online, including downloads of the film that install malware and Barbie-related viruses that point people to free tickets, but install data-stealing spyware instead.
Sharing personal and financial information with these scam sites leads to identity theft and fraud. Scammers might commit these follow-on crimes themselves, and they might post the stolen information for resale on dark web marketplaces as well—all of which puts movie fans at risk.
“Cybercriminals are always on the lookout for opportunities to make phishing and other scams more attractive and believable,” said Steve Grobman, Chief Technology Officer at online protection company, McAfee, “They often leverage popular and well-publicized events such as movie premieres, concerts, or sporting events to trick users into clicking on malicious links.”
6% of scams in Australia: Barbie-related malware is on the rise
In just the last three weeks, McAfee has seen a hundred new instances of malware that have Barbie-related filenames. While the majority are in the United States (37%), we’re also seeing instances worldwide with 6% in Australia, 5% in both the UK and India, and 3% in France, Japan, and Ireland.
Fake videos leading Barbie-branded attacks
McAfee researchers also discovered several fake and malicious videos that tempt consumers with Barbie tickets by downloading a file that is in fact loaded with malware. This malware known as “Redline Stealer” then siphons personal information, login details, and more from devices.
Fake Barbie Movie Download Scam
McAfee researchers have also discovered several examples of malicious campaigns that attempt to trick victims into downloading the “Barbie” movie in different languages. By clicking the link, it prompts victims to download a .zip file, one which is packed with malware.
The prevalence of these scams once again shows how attackers have latched onto the movie’s hype, hoping people will click the malicious files because the Barbie name is trending.
Even while the Barbie and Oppenheimer films churn up hot, new hype, the online scams linked to them are old hat. You can avoid these “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” scams by looking out for several telltale signs and by putting a few simple security measures in place.
McAfee shares top tips to stay safe
- Stick with trusted retailers and streamers. Keeping your shopping and viewing to known, reputable brands remain your safest bet online. Moreover, trusted streamers will only carry shows and events that they have the rights to. If you find an offer to stream something that’s heavily discounted, free, or not available on known media outlets, it’s likely a scam. At the very least, it might be pirated content, which could carry malware threats along with it.
- Purchase tickets from the theater chain or a reputable ticketing app. Another way scammers like to cash in on a hot ticket is to open a bogus online box office that charges for tickets. Of course, they won’t deliver. They’ll simply take your money and your card number to boot. You can avoid this by purchasing your tickets online directly from the theater or with a reputable online movie ticketing app that you can find in Apple’s App Store or Google Play.
- Watch out for shoddy-looking sites. Online scammers have various levels of sophistication when it comes to building and designing scam sites. Some can look quite legitimate, yet others look rather slapped together. In either case, keep a sharp eye out for poor web design, typos, and grammatical errors, however small. These often indicate a scam site, as reputable companies make every effort to provide a clean and professional-looking experience.
- View offers, promos, and giveaways with a critical eye. With big media, events come big marketing efforts, and scammers will do their best to blend in with them. A quick way to sniff out a scam is to take a close look at the promotion. If it asks you to provide your bank or card information to qualify, count on it being a scam. Put simply, steer clear of promotions that ask for something in return, particularly if it’s your money or personal information.
- Get online protection. Comprehensive online protection software will defend against the latest virus, malware, spyware, and ransomware attacks. Plus, it further protects your privacy and identity. Specific to the “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” scams floating around, online protection can help prevent you from clicking links to known or suspected malicious sites. In addition, it offers strong password protection by generating and automatically storing complex passwords to keep your credentials safer from hackers and crooks who might try to force their way into your accounts.