Why pirates want you to download free movies & TV shows

2017-01-12 07:01

Cape Town - Some people pay for legal internet TV streaming and download services like ShowMax and Netflix, while others choose to go the video piracy route.

What most people don’t realise is that some pirate sites offer free content for a reason - it’s “digital bait” allowing them to steal millions of rands from unsuspecting viewers.

In 2015 there were 78 billion visits to film and television piracy sites worldwide. Three-quarters of those were to streaming sites with the rest going to torrent and download sites. The vast majority of these sites provide the content for free. The obvious question is what’s in it for the site owner - is it as simple as they are doing this to sell advertising on their site?

1 out of 3 torrenting sites contain dangerous malware

The answer, according to a study by RiskIQ, is much more sinister. Of the 800 most popular pirate sites tested, one out of every three contained malware. Malware is a computer bug that comes in many forms, and an infection can result in identity theft, financial loss, and computers being taken over by hackers. 

The most worrying part about this is that the victim doesn’t even need to click on a link or download a file to become infected. Forty-five percent of malware found on the sample sites was a form of “drive-by downloads”, where the software is downloaded silently without the user doing anything other than viewing shows. Other sites may require users to install a plug in, that once in place can then install further malicious software without the owner knowing.

Why you should be worried about malware

Malware can register keystrokes and pass on banking logins and other private information to criminals. It can install ransomware that locks the computer such that the only way to regain access is to pay an unlocking fee. It can even switch on the video camera on laptops and broadcast what it’s seeing without the user knowing.

Malware can also turn computers into a zombie army that helps hackers perpetrate massive advertising fraud by having computers deliver false clicks (advertisers often pay on the basis of the number of clicks an ad delivers). The computer owner may not even see this happening - the only symptoms would be high data usage and the computer running sluggishly. 

Video piracy may be free, but there are hidden costs 

Despite the fact that video piracy is illegal, it’s often seen as a victimless crime and is still a common occurrence. As more people get online, many will take the digital bait of seemingly free TV shows and movies without understanding they are actually the intended victim. In light of that, the alternative of paying for legitimate services is the safest and possibly ultimately cheapest option.

Legal online entertainment options currently available in South Africa:

• Amazon Prime
• Google Movies
• iTunes

Read more on:    showmax  |  tv  |  movies

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