Pirates dethroned: Group-IB blocked more than 180,000 links to pirated copies of Game of Thrones

As the Game of Thrones saga came to a close (no spoilers here), Group-IB has summed up the results of its anti-piracy campaign during Season 8 of the Game of Thrones one of the biggest franchises in the TV history. Since April 2019, when the final season premiered, Group-IB Anti-Piracy team has successfully blocked more than 43,000 links to pirated copies of the GOT Season 8 on pirate websites, forums, and social media. Group-IB’s Anti-Piracy team was brought in to protect Game of Thrones against online pirates back in 2015. Since that time, the company’s specialists have blocked more than 180,000 links to illegal copies of Game of Thrones in Russian.

The final GOT Season 8 premiered on 14 April and became one of the show’s most popular seasons not only among fans all over the world, but also among online pirates. Group-IB’s Anti-Piracy team discovered and blocked 43,711 links to pirated Season 8 episodes in Russian. Illegal copies surfaced on pirate websites, forums, and social media. Pirated copies of the GOT Season 8 episodes were spotted on 1,098 different websites, 94 of which were designed exclusively for the distribution of pirated GOT copies.

More than 30,000 unique links to pirated GOT episodes have been removed from the search results of the Russian search engine Yandex. In response to the blocking, online pirates struck back by creating mirrors on a daily basis copies of their websites with new but very similar domain names. For instance, one of the pirates created more than 20 mirrors on their subdomains. However, according to the pirates’ forum posts, the owners of pirate websites were not ready for the “attack” on them: “Looks like somebody just wiped the links out. Some of the pages disappeared… some of them do not appear in search results”. It is also interesting that some of the groups on VK.com, a Russian social network, removed pirated episodes after receiving complaints and turned into GOT fan pages.

The streaming service Amediateka holds exclusive distribution rights for the Game of Thrones in Russia and since April 2015, when Season 5 premiered, has used the services of Group-IB to fight online pirates distributing illegal copies of the GOT in Russian. Season after season, online pirates’ interest in the show has only been increasing. For example, while Season 5 was broadcast, Group-IB’s Anti-Piracy team detected and removed 2,067 links to illegal copies. Season 7 saw an increase, reaching 12,540 links to pirated episodes detected and blocked. Season 8 set a record of 43,711 links. For the past 4 years, Group-IB detected and blocked more than 180,000 links, including links detected and blocked between the seasons’ airings.

Как Group-IB блокировала нелегальные ссылки на Game of Thrones

GOT is not the only Amediateka’s show that Group-IB’s Anti-Piracy team protects, but it turned out to be pirates’ favorite one. Pirates’ other top targets include True Detective, with 23,473 pirated links detected and blocked, Billions (20,303 links), The Good Wife (14,541 links), and Westworld, with 12,229 links detected and blocked by Group-IB Anti-Piracy team.

For us the battle against online pirates, trying to profit off the illegal distribution of the Game of Thrones in Russian, was as fierce as for George R.R. Martin’s characters. I would also like to highlight Amediateka’s commitment to counter online piracy in Russia: they brought in Group-IB Anti-Piracy team ahead of time and have been making continuous efforts to popularize legal viewership of the Game of Thrones making it available on its website, in movie theaters all over the country and even on the stadium.

Andrey Busargin
Andrey Busargin

Director of Brand Protection and Anti-Piracy at Group-IB

Group-IB‘s fight against digital piracy started in 2011, when the Anti-Piracy Department was established. Group-IB’s Anti-Piracy team uses unique machine-learning technologies applied in complex investigations of cyberattacks to detect pirate websites, find their owners and block illegal content. Group-IB’s Anti-Piracy system monitors 100,000+ resources in all languages ranging from torrent trackers and streaming services to social media groups and pirate platforms in the DarkNet. The average time to detect the first pirated copy on the Internet is 30 minutes. 80% of pirated links are successfully blocked by Group-IB team within 24 hours of their appearance on the Internet.

About Group-IB

Group-IB, with its headquarters in Singapore, is one of the leading providers of solutions dedicated to detecting and preventing cyberattacks, identifying online fraud, investigating high-tech crimes, and protecting intellectual property. The company’s Threat Intelligence and Research Centers are located in the Middle East (Dubai), the Asia-Pacific (Singapore), and Europe (Amsterdam).

Group-IB’s Unified Risk Platform is an ecosystem of solutions that understands each organization’s threat profile and tailors defenses against them in real-time from a single interface. The Unified Risk Platform provides complete coverage of the cyber response chain. Group-IB’s products and services consolidated in Group-IB’s Unified Risk Platform include Group-IB’s Threat IntelligenceManaged XDRDigital Risk ProtectionFraud ProtectionAttack Surface ManagementBusiness Email ProtectionAudit & ConsultingEducation & TrainingDigital Forensics & Incident ResponseManaged Detection & Response, and Cyber Investigations.

Group-IB’s technological leadership and R&D capabilities are built on the company’s 19 years of hands-on experience in cybercrime investigations worldwide and more than 70,000 hours of cybersecurity incident response accumulated in our leading DFIR Laboratory, High-Tech Crime Investigations Department, and round-the-clock CERT-GIB.

Group-IB is an active partner in global investigations led by international law enforcement organizations such as Europol and INTERPOL. Group-IB is also a member of the Europol European Cybercrime Centre’s (EC3) Advisory Group on Internet Security, which was created to foster closer cooperation between Europol and its leading non-law enforcement partners.

Group-IB’s experience in threat hunting and cyber intelligence has been fused into an ecosystem of highly sophisticated software and hardware solutions designed to monitor, identify, and prevent cyberattacks. Group-IB’s mission is to protect its clients in cyberspace every day by creating and leveraging innovative solutions and services.

Group-IB’s experience in threat hunting and cyber intelligence has been fused into an ecosystem of highly sophisticated software and hardware solutions designed to monitor, identify, and prevent cyberattacks. Group-IB’s mission is to fight high-tech crime while protecting our clients in cyberspace and helping them achieve their goals. To do so, we analyze cyber threats, develop our infrastructure to monitor them, respond to incidents, investigate complex high-tech crimes, and design unique technologies, solutions, and services to counteract adversaries.