Illegal streamers warned of higher risk of hacking, scams and viruses

A computer screen with program code warning of a detected malware script program. 3d illustration
(Credit: Getty)

People accessing illegal streaming sites or illegally downloading movies and TV shows are at greater risk of hacking, phishing scams and viruses, according to a new report.

In a study by the Industry Trust for IP Awareness, one third of people illegally accessing content online have been infected with malware, a figure which is up 14% since December 2019.

A growing number of people are also becoming victims of fraud, having handed over credit card details to illegal streaming sites.

Read more: Tenet is ‘a perfect storm for piracy’

According to the Industry Trust, 25% of those giving payment details have been charged multiple times, with 26% falling victim to serious fraud.

Elsewhere, 31% of users have been exposed to inappropriate content in the form of offensive adverts and pop-ups.

“We want audiences seeking out entertainment online to enjoy the safest, best quality experience they can,” said Liz Bales, Chief Executive at the Industry Trust.

“While the temptation to see something first or to do so without paying for it might be attractive, especially at a time when consumer confidence and the economic outlook are both compromised by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, it really is worth asking the question as to whether acting on that urge is worth the risk, especially when the reality is you are more likely than ever before to end up paying for it with an attack on your privacy and online security.”

John David Washington in <i>Tenet</i>. (Warner Bros.)
John David Washington in Tenet. (Warner Bros.)

The research comes as Christopher Nolan's new movie Tenet has been described as 'a perfect storm for piracy'.

The movie is opening in different territories around the world at different times, and in the US, may not appear in cinemas in major market cities like New York and Los Angeles for some time, as they remain closed under coronavirus lockdown measures, meaning demand for pirated copies will be high.

One anti-piracy 'veteran' told Variety: “In some ways ‘Tenet’ is a perfect storm for piracy, in that it has raised expectations, both about the film itself and the cinema experience.

“Also, it has limited availability and suffers from a staggered release. We see piracy can occur everywhere. It happens even in the three hours between East and West coast US releases.”

The movie is scheduled for release in the UK on 26 August, followed by selected US cinemas on 3 September.