Limewire was the Spotify before the internet was robust enough to sustain a service like Spotify.

Unlike Spotify, Limewire allowed you to download music for free – which is a nicer way of saying “illegally”.

As it turns out, downloading music illegally is still very much in fashion despite the accessibility of music streaming services.

The bad news is that because pirated music comes from somebody on the internet and not an official source, that music may contain more than the power to move you.

In an analysis of music files from Grammy nominated artists, Kaspersky uncovered 30 982 malicious files using the popular artists to lure folks into downloading – and potentially spreading – malware.

In South Africa, Billie Eilish is seemingly the most effective method of delivering malware to unsuspecting users.

Back in 2018 Kaspersky found 205 instances of malware disguised as Eilish’s songs but in 2019 this figure shot up to 15 354. Further more, Kaspersky believes malicious, incorrectly labelled files accounted for 184 005 attacks in South Africa alone.

Other popular artists used by attackers to disguise malware include Post Malone, Lil Nas X, Ariana Grande, Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift.

“Cybercriminals understand what is popular and always strive to capitalise on that. Music, alongside TV shows, is one of the most popular types of entertainment and, as a result, an attractive means to spread malware, which criminals readily use,” explains security analyst at Kaspersky, Anton Ivanov.

“However, as we see more and more users subscribe to streaming platforms, which do not require file download in order to listen to music, we expect that malicious activity related to this type of content will decrease,” says Ivanov.

Despite this shift to streaming, a 2018 report from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry reveals that 38 percent of consumers obtain music through copyright infringement.

Add to this the fact that there are very few ways to download music legally for use on other devices. After searching for places to buy music for download to use on a flash drive in a car, we’ve only found iTunes and Amazon Music. While all streaming services allow you to download music to listen to offline, those downloads are locked within the app and can’t be transferred to another device.

Downloading music this way is also incredibly expensive with six songs costing as much as a one-month subscription to Apple Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, Deezer and other streaming services.

While we don’t support music piracy, its understandably why so many folks still do it.

With all of that having been said, it’s best to avoid downloading music illegally and subscribe to a music streaming service. Hell, Spotify even offers a free version and while the adverts may be annoying, it’s better than downloading malware.