According to the Industry Trust for Intellectual Property Awareness report, a staggering 97% of some of the most visited illegal TV and movie sites contain credit card scams or malware.
What’s more, a more recent study by cybersecurity firm McAfee pointed out that websites offering free downloads or streams of your favorite shows or movies are, more often than not, rife with malware.
Malware in Disguise
These studies both reveal the amount of malware that’s hidden on pirate sites most of us use. The malware is usually disguised as an innocent-looking ‘play’ button that viewers click by mistake, thinking it’ll play the movie or TV show. Unfortunately, this triggers the malware to start downloading onto your device. McAfee also added that illegal streaming websites could also contain malware that is disguised as pirated video files.
The bad news is that users who download these ‘videos’ can end up being infected by said malware capable of stealing passwords stored on their devices or personal information.
According to McAfee’s study, movies released more recently are 9 out of the top 10 movies identified as having a higher risk of becoming targets to cybercriminals. For this reason, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Invisible Man were pretty high up on the list. Having this in mind, it’s safe to say that two of the biggest factors responsible for video piracy are the unwillingness to pay content fees and the unavailability of desired content.
Be Careful Online
Consequently, 50% of the top 10 TV shows targeted by cybercriminals are Netflix-produced original content, which can’t be found just anywhere. Because these shows are so exclusive, those who aren’t subscribed to streaming services are trying to find alternative ways to watch them, making these shows likely targets for cybercriminals.
Cybersecurity experts advise users to be very careful while browsing these free streaming websites. Here are some precautions that you can take when looking for a new episode of your favorite shows.
You can start by using FindAnyFilm.com – this is a one-stop-shop, where you’ll be able to find all movies in one single place. The site also displays movies in all formats where they’re legally available.
Stay Away From Fake Websites
Be wary of multiple ‘download’ or ‘play’ buttons displayed on the websites – these are meant to trick you into accidentally downloading unwanted software onto your device. If you’re unsure, your safest option is to just close the page.
Don’t let popular logos and brands fool you – pirate sites usually use strategies to make them look like official sites, including popular payment services, holding global big name brand adverts, and even promoting themselves on social media. It’s better to look for a website name you’re familiar with.
Keep your antivirus up-to-date – make sure your antivirus and anti-spyware software are up-to-date. You should, however, keep in mind that this won’t protect you from all threats.
Keep Your Data And Devices Safe
Be careful with device settings – make sure you don’t accidentally disable the security features on your device, don’t allow untrusted or install browser extensions from these websites.
Don’t hand over your credit card information unless you’re familiar with the site – a site can provide a secured (HTTPS) connection while asking for your credit card information and still be a scam. Don’t hand over your information unless you’re sure the site is trustworthy.
And last but not least, VPNs – in this day and age, having a VPN is almost essential for browsing online. The anonymity and encryption provided by a VPN help to protect your online activities, whether it be sending emails, paying bills, or shopping online.
To Sum It All Up
In conclusion, malware can be found on most piracy websites. Because of this, you need to be aware that by visiting piracy websites, you are opening yourself up to the possibility of having your data stolen or used and leaving your device open to all kinds of malicious malware and viruses. You can easily avoid such by making sure you use legitimate websites for content and keeping your antivirus software up-to-date.
Having a VPN is also considered a big plus. However, if you’re still dying to see that Netflix show and can’t seem to find it anywhere, don’t worry. You’re not the only one.
Just make sure to take extra precautions when browsing the Internet and when visiting all kinds of websites. Using the tips included, you minimize the risk of leaving sensitive information and your device exposed to malware.