“Game of Thrones” Cancellation Hoax Spreads on Facebook

hoax_alertA message is spreading on Facebook that claims popular HBO fantasy television series “Game of Thrones” has been canceled. Users are prompted to click on a link from “Googonline.com” to learn more. Of course, the message is a hoax designed to piggyback off the show’s large viewership and the rabid online discussion it creates.

When users click on the link, they are directed to a website that tells users that their Java plug-in needs to be updated. The hoax page then offers a “download” of Java Version 7 Update 25, though what’s actually being offered is likely malware. As pointed out by Graham Cluley, the anti-virus expert who uncovered the scam, the version of Java that the webpage is offering isn’t even real.

“Even if Java Version 7 Update 25 was the latest version of Java (which it isn’t – at the time of writing, Java Version 7 is at Update 60, and Java version 8 is at Update 5), you should always be wary of downloading updates from anything other than the official website,” he wrote. “Chances are that this download is malicious, and designed to infect your computer.”

Scams like this one play on the “click-bait” factor of big, bold headlines and what’s popular in culture. However, one look at the phony URL the message purportedly represents should be enough for users to know it’s a hoax.