Not a Game of Thrones fan? What do you even do on social media? The intensity with which series’ like GoT swept up the world is nothing short of remarkable. Grown adults are whispering spoilers over the printer, discussing dragons, death and the questionable “romantic” relationships of major characters.
But with this adoration came, at least for some of us, a collective loss of sanity. Tech-savvy Millennials apparently ready to compromise their own safety in order to stream the very latest episodes, such was the desperation and FOMO-style fervour.
We’re not talking the selling of body parts but instead the apparent willingness to drop tried and tested security walls that keep the bad guys, possibly even worse than Ramsay Bolton, out of your system and out of your life.
As episode one of series eight aired, literally thousands of illegal torrents were launched to a waiting fan world. Websites offering these services are easy enough to find. A quick Google search will throw up a selection or delve into user-generated sites such as Reddit. But alongside your stream and the resolution to those end-of-series-seven questions that have been keeping you up at night, what else might you get?
The long and short of it is: you might get hacked. You simply have no idea what it is you’re downloading when you start a stream. There’s no way you’d open an email that you were suspicious of but for Game of Thrones, it was a risk thousands of viewers decided was worth taking.
And such is the deviousness of many hackers, you might not even know about it straight away; a malicious file planted in your hard drive could manifest itself days, if not weeks later when the hacker decides the time is right. Just to clarify, this exposes you to have your credit card, bank details, personal information and so on cloned and either used to steal from you or sold on the dark web or both.
Don’t make the mistake thinking that hackers are in some way chancers either. They’re probably even GoT fans themselves and know full well that the new season opener is the perfect moment to start their scam. In fact, industry experts attest to the fact that series endings and openings are exactly when the hackers are at their peak.
So why do seemingly sensible adults who would never fall for something so base as a phishing email risk their money and their security for what, when it comes down to it, is just a *whispers* TV show? Are we talking about a collective sense of that same FOMO mentioned up post or are we smarter than that, playing the odds and hoping to be in the set of streamers who escape the attention and therefore the consequences of system malware attacks?
If you enjoy a little amateur psychology, you might consider the supposition that as a society we have become ever more hopeless at waiting. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence to back that up and a study by the Pew Research Center on the Internet and American Life stated that one of the major effects of technology on the psyche of Americans was: “… a need for instant gratification and loss of patience.”
We just hate waiting. We need closure, we crave it. Psychologist Alicia H Clark describes the very real physical symptoms that waiting for something significant can induce. She even describes this experience as “purposeful anxiety”, purposeful because the reason you’re feeling the symptoms so acutely is because you genuinely care about the outcome.
Could this then be the reason why so many of us take such a big risk because we can’t live with the anxiety manifest into physical symptoms and because we are simply not used to having to wait? It seems kind of dramatic but no less than the death of Viserion the dragon at the hands of the Night King.
Ok, so guesswork aside, it happened. We all went a little crazy and now we’re busy having to deal with the aftermath of collective insanity. Could we have handled it better? If you’re looking for someone to tell you that streaming from various sites is safe then you won’t find that here because quite honestly it isn’t and you’re better off waiting but are you going to do that? Of course not, so here’s how to minimise your exposure.
- Run an antivirus while you’re on a torrent site and make sure it has live monitoring so you’ll get the warning and be able to act quickly
- Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to disguise your IP and some of your personal information
- Put an ad-blocker in place as a lot of malicious content comes from these annoyances and if they do pop up, don’t even think about clicking on one
- Use a better-known site. Just do a little research and you’ll find torrent sites that are definitely more reputable than others
You’re no Lancel Lannister but like most of us you’re willing to take risks for the right reasons. If you need closure without the spoilers and to have your GoT itch scratched with a torrent download site, then play it safe and remember the words of Cersei Lannister: “when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die”.