The long-awaited final season of Game of Thrones premiered on Monday and many Australian viewers rushed to stream the first episode.
But those who want to watch the hit series must pay a subscription to the streaming service Foxtel, since Australians do not have access to the on-demand service from HBO.
It means that many are turning to online piracy sites to illegally download the episode.
Torrents of the show were available online as soon as it was broadcast this week, with more than 120,000 people sharing one of the three most popular files.
But online security experts have warned that illegal downloaders run the risk of opening their computers to hackers and criminals by visiting pirate sites.
The long-awaited final season of Game of Thrones premiered Monday and many Australian viewers rushed to stream the first episode
A piracy site operator, TorrentFreak, told 9News that they experienced 20 percent more traffic to the site after the show.
A site spokesperson said the most shared torrent is the latest installment of Game of Thrones with tens of thousands of peers (the name for users who share the file).
& # 39; Like every year, the total number of downloads is expected to ultimately amount to several million per episode & # 39 ;, said the spokesperson.
The show is considered the most illegal on television, with 1.77 million Australians illegally downloading the seventh season in 2017.
A finder.com.au survey found that 30 percent of Australians who illegally downloaded this broadcast saw it.
Computer security company Kaspersky Lab warned those who downloaded the cultural phenomenon.
Torrents of the show were available online as they were broadcast this week, with more than 120,000 people sharing one of the three most popular files
& # 39; Game of Thrones accounted for 17 percent of all infected illegal content in 2018, with 20,934 users attacked, even though it was the only TV show in the list that had not released new episodes in 2018, & # 39; the company reported.
& # 39; The first and last episode of each Game of Thrones season that we analyzed turned out to be the most dangerous, accounting for the largest number of malicious files in the Kaspersky Lab collection and for most users. & # 39;
The most common type of threat is known as a Trojan horse – a file or shortcut that resembles content that viewers want to view, but that actually contains malware that gives hackers and criminals control over users' computers.
Australian fans of Game of Thrones have previously been warned that they will end up in jail if they are caught downloading the highly anticipated final season.
Creative Content Australia's executive director Lori Flekser told 7 News that the crackdown was not just about stopping income loss.
& # 39; It's not just about sales, it's about the total investment in great screen content that is being impacted, ”she said.
New anti-piracy laws were also introduced after the seventh season of Game of Thrones aired in 2017.
The number of downloads fell from 29 percent to 19 percent when the laws were introduced.
The chief executive of the Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association Simon Bush said that Foxtel, owner of the Australian rights to the hit series, has invested heavily in local content and illegal downloads that have affected that investment.
& # 39; Foxtel invests in the Australian drama and has paid the rights to Game of Thrones to support their subscription business model, & # 39; he said.
& # 39; If we want Australian production, don't pirate Game of Thrones, just go outside and pay for your small subscription. & # 39;
But online security experts have warned that illegal downloaders are at risk of opening their computers to hackers and criminals by visiting piracy sites
The show is considered the most illegal on television, with 1.77 million Australians illegally downloading the seventh season in 2017
The finder.com.au survey found that most states had similar illegal download rates, somewhere between 30 and 40 percent, while South Australia was the most reliable with only 19 percent piracy.
A government report from 2018 showed that the number of people downloading content illegally is gradually declining.
However, those who were illegal downloaded more illegal content than ever before.
In 2015, 57 percent of Australians consumed legal digital content and rose to 67 percent in 2018.
Many of those interviewed for the government report agreed that piracy was wrong and said they would abandon it if the content was cheaper.
Of the respondents to the survey who used paid content services, 34 percent said it was because they did not want to use sites that contain illegal content.
Speed and convenience were given as the reason by 49 percent of the respondents, and 36 percent said that paid services provided better quality.
The 2018 online survey on copyright infringement garnered 2,453 responses and showed an increase in streaming and a decrease in downloading.
& # 39; Game of Thrones accounts for 17 percent of all infected illegally copied content in 2018, & # 39; a Kaspersky report
Meanwhile, in 2017, Sydney's husband Haidar Majid Salam Al Baghdadi was convicted for piracy content and sentenced to 18 months in prison, according to news.com.au.
The court heard the Australian Federal Police, the investigators from Foxtel and Irdeto, a company that secures digital platforms, a & # 39; criminal network & # 39; uncover piracy.
Then Foxtel's chief executive, Peter Tonagh, was satisfied with the result and said justice was being served.
& # 39; (Foxtel) hopes it sends a strong signal that this type of activity is illegal, & # 39; he said.
& # 39; Foxtel takes intellectual property theft very seriously because it undermines the creative industry, including every company and individual who works so hard to deliver the movies, sports, drama and entertainment we love. & # 39;
In its fight against online piracy, Foxtel successfully submitted applications to block a number of websites under anti-piracy laws, including The Pirate Bay, isohunt and Torrentz.