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Dodgy Doctor Who games may be malwarey

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Security experts are warning that "unauthorised copies" of a Doctor Who game released last weekend that have begun circulating on P2P networks are likely to pack a nasty surprise.

The BBC released the licence-payer-funded game City of the Daleks last Friday, free of charge to UK residents (official site here). Fans of the Time Lord from outside the UK have been promised paid-for versions of the game at some later date, but in the meantime geo-location technology stops them from downloading the software from the UK site.

Frustrated overseas fans might be tempted to look for copies of the game on P2P networks but this approach is fraught with danger, warns Sunbelt Software security researcher Chris Boyd. Although some copies of the game appear to be legit, others come with different file sizes and filenames.

For example, instead of a 331MB “Installer-CityoftheDaleks.exe” file users are offered a 475MB file called “Setup.exe” in one example. And there's no guarantee that even those files that match the right size and name are the genuine article. Even more suspicious are the cases where would-be gamers are advised to disable anti-virus protection before proceeding with a download.

"There are some things even the mighty sonic screwdriver can’t fix, and your PC is probably one of them," Boyd warns in a blog post, containing screenshots of the genuine game and suspicious downloads, here.

Boyd told El Reg he is still in the process of analysing files. He hopes to post more information once he has scoped out the problem.

"There are still a number of large files popping up on torrents and forums claiming to be versions of the game that can bypass the region protection - while the files examined so far don't appear to be doing anything untoward, I have seen a couple of smaller sized files out there (2MB or less!) claiming to be Doctor Who games since the real thing was released," Boyd told El Reg.

"As you've probably guessed, they're not very friendly." ®

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