As the cost of living crisis continues to wreak havoc across the UK, it’s probably no surprise to hear that online piracy levels are on the rise. And while anyone that turns to illicit Netflix, Prime Video or Disney+ streams and downloads may think they’re saving money, it can cost them a lot more in the long run. That’s because online piracy portals are littered with malicious links which can spread dangerous malware or try to trick you into handing over your bank details.
And as more people turn to illegal streams James Walker, CEO of consumer data champions Rightly, is warning online pirates about the risks of illegal streaming and torrent downloads which they may not be aware of.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Walker said: “Sports and entertainment platforms are increasingly being pirated amidst the fragmentation of broadcasting and high prices in turbulent times.
“Unfortunately, illegal streaming opens people up to scammers. These cyber criminals will try and catch people out by using various tactics to access to bank accounts, commit fraud, or install malicious software.
“Almost every illegal site carries links to malicious software or misleading content of some sort, with many carrying no security certificates. This means that the criminals can view IP addresses and allow them to target individuals specifically.”
Besides spreading malware, online piracy sites can be used to trick people into falling for phishing scams which steal personal and financial information.
If hackers end up getting hold of this sensitive data it means any money people save by turning to illegal streams or downloads could quickly evaporate, as hackers would have the keys to their bank accounts.
Walker advised: “There’s no doubt, if you want to protect your personal and financial details, and your family’s safety, the secure and safe way to watch content is definitely through legitimate providers. The big players take security seriously and it’s in their interests to make sure it remains a safe environment to see content.”
Here are some of the threats people expose themselves to when they turn to illegal streaming and torrent websites…
Malware: Threats include banking trojans which are designed to access your bank accounts and other financial information in order to steal your money.
Spyware/Adware: This malicious software spies on your keyboard clicks to deliver particular ads to you that encourage you to click on certain links. It can also secretly look at you through the camera on your device.
Phishing: This is where people are tricked into revealing personal information, for example usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers, with the intent of taking over user accounts and stealing their money.
Fake browser or operating system updates: Generated by illegal sites to make you download something helpful to cyber criminals.
Besides the risk to your device’s security and personal information, accessing illegal streams or downloading fake torrents is illegal.
And while you may think you’ll be able to escape the wrath of rights holders, in recent years programme makers have been going the extra mile to clamp down on those that breach copyright.
Last year Virgin Media subscribers in the UK that had allegedly pirated Hollywood movie Ava – which was available to watch legally on Netflix – received a letter in the post warning them they faced £800 fines for illegally watching the movie.
They were told to pay a considerable fine or face court action.
You have been warned!