TV and film streaming sites carry bugs – just like we’ve always known.
New research has found that 90% of the most popular British movie and TV pirate sites in the UK contain malware – telling us something most of us already knew.
The report carried out by anti-piracy consultancy firm Intelligent Content Protection analysed the 30 most visited pirate sites and found that around nine out of 10 contain malware.
During the two-week monitoring of the most frequented sites, it was found that over two-thirds (67%) of the sites host credit card fraud schemes with just one site found to be not hosting any signs of malware or credit card fraud.
About 10 of the favourite site found to be installing pop-up ads on users’ devices with three of four users experiencing problems with their device after visiting pirate websites.
Most common malware is often sits disguised behind innocent looking ‘Play’ buttons which in fact triggers malware and malicious programmes to download into the devices, the report added.
The researchers claimed that the mechanism is a part of a scheme designed to generate revenue for site owners from click-throughs and can result in installation of other types of malwares.
According to the report, among those who browsed through the pirate sites intentionally or unwittingly, 77% of them experienced unwanted extras being downloaded into the devices including malware, spyware, other viruses and pop-up ads.
About one in five or about 17% lost their personal data and 14% were exposed to unwanted or explicit material such as pornography or violence.
The researchers said malware and potentiall unwanted programmes can often be difficult and costly to get rid of and can be used by scamsters to run cyber scams.
Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) director general Kieron Sharp said it’s important for net users to use their wits when watching film and TV online.
"You could end up getting far more than you bargained for when clicking on a link to watch a film or TV programme if it’s from an unauthorised site," Sharp said.
"Not only are you putting your personal security at risk, by using pirate websites you could be helping fund the organised criminal gangs who run these sites as a front for other cyber scams."
During the study it was found that 39% experienced pop-up adverts, one in three downloaded a virus onto their device, while more than a quarter (28%) accidentally downloaded malware on their device that could render their device unusable.
Head of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) of London City DCI Andy Fyfe said it is very important that the public recognises the dangers of visiting illegal websites.
"PIPCU is committed to combating intellectual property crime and we are working closely with the creative and advertising industries to disrupt illegal websites through the work of our Operation Creative and Operation Ashiko," Fyfe said.
"People need to know that by visiting copyright infringing websites they are running the risk of having their personal details stolen and used fraudulently, as well as exposing their computer to malicious malware and viruses."