In brief: Piracy has always been a tricky thing for show creators to tackle. Just about every premium show out there has a free alternative lurking on the internet somewhere, making it tough for creators to penalize illegal viewers. However, when it comes to Game of Thrones, a sizable chunk of said viewers are inadvertently punishing themselves by downloading malware-infested show files.
According to a report from internet security firm Kaspersky, 17 percent of infected show downloads were related to Game of Thrones. That comes out to around 20,934 users in total who fell victim to these fake (or semi-fake) downloads.
There is any number of reasons that this could be the case, but the most likely possibility ties directly to Game of Thrones' massive popularity.
Due to the show's wide reach, malware distributors may be looking to capitalize on the fact that a proportionally large number of people won't or can't pay to watch it, and will instead seek free alternatives.
It's also worth noting that due to the large number of would-be Game of Thrones pirates, many of those individuals will inevitably not be as tech-savvy as more hardcore pirates.
As such, they probably won't be aware of many "common sense" tactics, such as knowing how to spot fake or risky downloads and choosing the sites they visit with care. Still, even the most malware-resistant users need to tread carefully when pirating Game of Thrones episodes.
According to Kaspersky, the show's illegal downloads are a veritable minefield of potential threats - the security company says 33 different pieces of harmful software were found throughout infected downloads.