The ubiquitous Russian hackers have found a new way to spoil your life, a plan so evil it would make Cersei Lannister proud.
The final episode of season seven of Game of Thrones aired in the US at 4am Moscow time, which meant that for the majority of viewers who couldn’t stay up on a Sunday night to watch it, caught up on Monday evening instead. Ever-resourceful Russian hackers saw this time delay as an advantage and acted fast — some viewers of the series received texts on the popular messenger app Telegram at around 11am asking for a bitcoin ransom equivalent to 2,500 roubles ($42). To the people who fail to pay up before the set time, the hackers threatened to send another message containing spoilers that will be visible in their phone notifications. Moreover, attempts to blacklist the sender of the original message will be pointless, as the spoilers will be sent from a different account.
Telegram allows users to send messages without knowing the recipient's phone number, as all registered users get a personalised URL with their username that can be used to text them. TJournal suggests that the people who received the messages might have been active in Game of Thrones fan chats – public chatrooms are popular on Telegram too. This theory, however, suggests that the admins of the chatrooms are involved in the blackmailing as only they can see lists of chat participants.
To avoid falling victim to evil plans, experts suggest that Telegram users turn off the username URL option from their account settings or disable notifications until they watch the episode – you can't be too safe. For the night is dark and full of terrors.
Source: TJournal [in Russian]