Barbie may be a bright and bubbly icon, but there’s also a dark side to her in the online world. Cybercriminals are trying to cash in on the mega-hit movie that raked in $337 million worldwide in its opening weekend, by luring unsuspecting fans with malware-infected downloads of the film.
McAfee, an online protection company, has warned about a surge of scams that target Barbie lovers online, such as fake dubbed versions of the movie that install viruses, Barbie-themed malware, and phoney videos that offer free tickets—but lead to links that steal personal data with spyware instead.
Searching for ‘Barbie’ related items online exposes users to a higher risk of falling for these traps. Surprisingly, India ranks among the top 3 countries affected by these scams, despite having many of the popular piracy and torrenting sites banned.
One of the malicious schemes uncovered by McAfee involves tricking people into downloading the Barbie movie in different languages. This is especially sneaky for a movie that is only available in English. The links claim to offer .zip files with the movie, but they are actually packed with malware.
YouTube videos are another source of deception, with shady links in their descriptions. These links pretend to be download links for the movie, but they actually download a file that contains malware. This malware, known as “Redline Stealer”, then pilfers personal information, login details, and more from devices. The stolen data may then be sold on the dark web, putting movie fans in danger, notes McAfee.
Most of these scams are in the United States (37%), but they also occur worldwide, with 6% in Australia, 5% in both the UK and India, and 3% in France, Japan, and Ireland.
This is not the first time that cybercriminals have exploited big media events to spread malware. Similar scams were observed with the Super Bowl in the US, when Squid Games was all the rage, and around merchandise and streaming scams that pop up during FIFA’s Men’s and Women’s World Cup.
To protect yourself from these scams, McAfee advises users to stick with trusted retailers and streamers, purchase tickets from the theater chain or a reputable ticketing app, and view offers, promos, and giveaways with a critical eye.