Mimecast unravels scam websites impersonating as popular streaming services

With people being forced to stay at home, children being homeschooled and students unable to go to university, people in the region are spending a lot of time using streaming services. These have become so popular since the lockdown that Netflix has been asking viewers to avoid peak hours to save precious bandwidth for people working from home.

And this surge in usage has led hackers to develop a whole range of scam websites pretending to offer Disney+, Netflix and US-based streaming service Hulu for free. Cybersecurity specialist Mimecast found that Netflix has been a particularly popular service for cybercriminals, with over 700 suspicious domains impersonating the streaming giant in less than a week. Due to Disney+’s recent popularity, Mimecast has seen a growth in websites impersonating the new streaming service as well.

Explaining what this new type of attack could mean for the region, Carl Wearn, head of e-crime at Mimecast said, “The COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting lockdown has left people with a lot more time on their hands at home. One way that people in the Middle East and all over the world are filling this time is with streaming services. This binge-watching comes with security risks, as cybercriminals look to take advantage of the uptick in television viewing. We have seen a dramatic rise in suspicious domains impersonating a variety of streaming giants for nefarious purposes globally. These spoof websites often lure unsuspecting members of the public in with an offer of free subscriptions to steal valuable data. The data harvested includes names, addresses and other personal information, as well as stealing credit-card details for financial gain. Based on these examples seen throughout the globe, we would like to alert users in the region to be cautious and take the necessary precautions. Hackers are using methods s that reach us directly in our homes.”

Offering some guidance on how to stay safe while watching streaming services, Carl added, “My advice to the public is simple: if something looks too good to be true, then it probably is. Offers of free subscriptions are usually well-advertised and easy to find, so check the validity of any such claim before providing any information.”