Helping you balance your online life

What Really Happens When You Watch Stolen TV Episodes

Young woman relaxing at home

To watch or not watch, that’s the big question.

You’re a huge fan of the season’s most popular show and you hear the news that spoilers of upcoming episodes have been stolen and posted online. Episodes of other popular shows you like to watch have also been leaked and are taunting you, just waiting for you online.

What to do…what to do.

The angel on your shoulder is saying, “This is stolen property. You don’t have the right to look.” The devil on your other shoulder is saying, “It’s already out there for the public to see. Why not take advantage of the opportunity? You weren’t the one who stole it.”

Well, you should listen to that angel on your shoulder for more reasons than just saving your integrity. Computer security experts are telling people to avoid websites where any leaked episodes, scripts or summaries of TV shows are available. Hackers are responsible for stealing that material and they may be coming after you.

This act is a popular form of Ransomware and it’s hitting many top media firms. Hackers are stealing material and threatening to release it to the public if a ransom is not paid. The second wave of victims in this scheme are consumers….i.e., you. If you watch the TV episodes or view any other stolen material, likes scripts, the hackers will now have access to your personal information and data through your computer. They hack your system, steal your data and then demand a ransom.

If you are a victim of this malware, the FBI urges you not to pay the ransom. It’s not a guarantee that you’ll get your data back. In a memo recently released by the Bureau, victims are asked to report the incident to federal law enforcement so that they can keep accurate tabs on the malware threat.

Instead of paying the ransom, you should turn off your infected computer and disconnect it from the network it is on until you can get the malicious software removed. This is important because an infected computer can potentially take down other computers sharing the same network in your home or office.

The Best Defense

Here are some ways you can help prevent an attack:

  • Regularly back up your data either via the cloud or an offline storage system. If you are infected with ransomware, this will enable you to recover some or most of your data.
  • Be careful about clicking links and opening attachments in emails, especially if they are emails from someone you don’t know.
  • Only download software from reputable websites.
  • When updates are available, always update your operating system, software and other programs. Never ignore the “update available” notifications.
  • Purchase an antivirus and anti-malware program like AOL TechFortress and ensure you have it set up to update automatically and conduct regular scans of your computer.