9 in 10 most visited piracy sites contain malware
James R | On 30, Apr 2014
90 per cent of the most visited piracy sites in the UK contain malware, according to new research.
The statistics are hardly shocking news, but the study carried out by Incopro for FindAnyFilm.com (a handy site that lists all the places where films are available legally, from cinemas to DVD) is a reminder that pirate websites can sometimes come with their own costs. The report analysed 30 of the most frequently used illegal film and TV sites in the UK and found that 90 per cent contained malware and other ‘Potentially Unwanted Programmes’ (PUPs) designed to deceive or defraud unwitting viewers.
The rogue sites are also rife with credit card scams, with over two thirds (67 per cent) of the 30 sites containing credit card fraud. In total, just one of the 30 pirate sites monitored over a two week period showed no signs of malware or credit card fraud.
Most commonly the malware is disguised behind an innocent looking ‘Play’ button, which viewers click on thinking it will play the film or TV show but which actually triggers the malware or other programmes to start downloading onto the device.
The most popular type of malware, found on one-third of the sites studied, installs pop-up ads on people’s devices, but 16 per cent of the sites were home to rootkits, which fully expose a user’s data to the scammer and allow them to access the device remotely.
New research from ICM, commissioned alongside the website study, revealed just how easy it is to fall victim to such scams. Of those people who have unwittingly or intentionally visited a pirate website, more than three quarters (77 per cent) experienced “unwanted extras”, such as malware, spyware, viruses or pop-up ads. Almost one in five (17 per cent) lost personal data or had personal information stolen, while 14 per cent were exposed to unwanted or explicit material, such as pornography or violence.
Kieron Sharp, Director General of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), said: “There’s a lot of work being done to block and take down these sites but it’s important to have your wits about you 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.”
Liz Bales, Director General, The Industry Trust for IP Awareness, added: “We know parents are very concerned about online security. The majority of people do the right thing and access film and TV online legally from the wealth of official services, but our research shows it’s easy to be misled by sites posing as the real deal. It’s why the industry is committed to guiding parents and young people to sites where they can watch their favourite content safely and legally.”
DCI Andy Fyfe, Head of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) at City of London Police, said: “It is very important that the public recognises the dangers of visiting illegal websites and so we welcome the Industry Trust’s current campaign to raise awareness on this issue. 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. 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.”