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Actors and movies that could hide malware
TV & streaming

Downloading ‘free’ movies online is a bad idea – especially if they star these actors

We always advise not to download movies or TV shows from pirated sites. It is a crime, but it is also a sure-fire way to infect your device with malware. There are plenty of legal options to stream shows for free. Tap or click here for the best sites to watch movies for free.

Unfortunately, there will always be people who refuse to pay and turn to illegally downloading content. But a recent report points out that you might get more than you bargained for when searching for films with specific actors.

Read on to see which actors and actresses pose the most significant threat as criminals slide malware into their films.

Here’s the backstory

Everybody loves a great Hollywood film, but some people have an insatiable need for instant gratification. Instead of waiting for the production to stream on legal services, many search online for pirated copies.

It is definitely against the law, and many of these downloaded films contain malware. These can be anything from cryptocurrency stealers to subtle code infiltrating your gadget’s memory to grab your social media details or personal information.

Cybercriminals target films starring specific actors more than others to increase the malware’s reach. A report from Surfshark highlights which Hollywood A-listers are most attractive to these criminals.

Researchers looked at the most popular search terms across different pop culture categories. Then, they added well-known piracy terms to the search, such as torrent, free, stream, or MP3. Finally, they gathered all the links from the first five pages and ran them through a malware detector.

Movies explainer
Credit: SurfShark

So which actors carry the highest probability of their illegal films containing malware? Here’s the top 10 list of male actors with the percentage of malware present:

  1. Robert de Niro – 54.1%
  2. Jake Gyllenhall – 53.6%
  3. Anthony Hopkins – 52.6%
  4. Tom Hanks – 51.6%
  5. Liam Neeson – 51%
  6. Brad Pitt – 50.5%
  7. Hugh Jackman – 49.5%
  8. Robert Downey Jr. – 49.5%
  9. Ian McKellen – 47.5%
  10. Bradley Cooper – 47.4%
Movies actors
Credit: SurfShark

Top female Hollywood stars

It isn’t just male actors that attract malware, but female stars. Here’s the top 10 list with the percentage of malware detected in their films:

  1. Kate Winslet – 52.1%
  2. Margot Robbie – 52%
  3. Rachel McAdams – 51%
  4. Sandra Bullock – 49%
  5. Emily Blunt – 48.4%
  6. Emilia Clarke – 48%
  7. Keira Knightley – 47.4%
  8. Faye Dunaway – 46.8%
  9. Emma Stone – 45.9%
  10. Elizabeth Olsen – 45.4%
Movies actresses
Credit: SurfShark

The report also includes the 10 most dangerous films and TV shows to download illegally. While “The Walking Dead,” “Bridgerton,” and “The Dark Knight” all made the list, the top spots go to:

  • Finding Dory” in the film category with 46.7%
  • Breaking Bad” in the TV category with 39%

The list expands further by looking at anime shows, music, video games and books. You can read through the infographics on Surfshark’s site.

What you can do about it

Our advice is never to download films, TV shows or music from illegal websites or services. It can get you into trouble with the authorities, and you risk infecting your device with nasty malware.

There are plenty of places online where you can stream content legally, and not all of them cost money. For example, a website like Kanopy is perfect if you enjoy artsy films, while Popcornflix has many comedies and thriller movies.

Check out our recent article for the 12 best sites to watch movies for free for a more comprehensive selection. 

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