For quite some time, Fmovies has sat among a newer-breed of pirate streaming sites pulling in astonishing levels of traffic. This has attracted a lot of negative attention from major rightsholders in the movie and TV sectors.
The studios of the MPA have repeatedly taken complaints about FMovies to the U.S. government, leading to the platform making annual appearances in the USTR’s ‘notorious markets’ list. The resulting diplomatic pressure on overseas governments (in this case Vietnam) is supposed to restrict and restrain sites like Fmovies from operating freely; even a reduction in popularity might be a good start.
Fmovies Does Nothing But Grow
No matter which tools rightsholders use against FMovies, nothing has worked thus far. The site was sued in the United States in 2016 and emerged on the wrong end of a $210,000 judgment, yet appeared entirely unaffected.
The site is also subject to numerous ISP blocking orders around the world and in 2022 was held up as an example to show why global DNS blocking may be needed to deal with the most persistent of pirate sites.
Back then Fmovies.to was enjoying at least 87 million visits per month but by May 2023, the figure had increased again to over 98.4 million. Just a month later, Fmovies reached 106.9 million visits according to SimilarWeb stats, but that was just another stepping stone to the 122.3 million achieved in July 2023.
Users Keep Returning to the Site
This level of growth is not typical and in part may be linked to the closure of Soap2Day. Nevertheless, the site must be getting things right in the eyes of its users to maintain such high levels of traffic.
One of the claimed benefits of Fmovies is that advertising is kept to a minimum. For users of adblocking extensions, which likely counts for millions of the site’s users, that’s to be expected, but sites like Fmovies don’t run on fresh air. Indeed, in today’s ‘pirate market’, turning a profit is mostly seen as fundamental. The manner in which Fmovies generates revenue is likely to come to the forefront at some point but until then, some users have been voicing security concerns.
One of the conversations on Reddit began when a user complained that their AVG security software had blocked the download of a supposed trojan while using Fmovies.
Given that false positives are common and people can have polarized positions on which security software people should (and should not) be using, the conversation was much less productive than it could’ve been. Nevertheless, users of Avast and Kaspersky claimed to have the same issue, while at least one person advised that anti-virus software isn’t needed these days at all.
After speaking with a couple of people more focused on this type of issue, one shared the puzzling screenshot below. There’s no claim that the issues reported above are linked in any way to the information below, but it’s not the type of thing one tends to expect.
Running the same URL through urlscan.io shows that Fmovie scans are common; over 600 have already been carried out. The screenshot retrieved by URLScan can be seen below. The ‘software update’ is not what it claims to be and for those who click through, nothing good will come of it.
‘Disney’ Subdomain a Coincidental One-Off?
Drawing conclusions on security matters is best left to the professionals, so we draw none here. All we can say for sure is that some security vendors appear to have been sounding the alarm this week, as the screenshot below tends to suggest. Over what exactly isn’t clear so for anyone experiencing issues or those with a technical interest, getting in touch with the vendors directly maybe an option.
Given the basic curiosity around the Disney subdomain, it was always a possible that Netflix or Amazon might’ve made an appearance too, but they don’t. Instead, the weirdness continues with verizon.fmovies.to, centurylink.fmovies.to, comcastcorporation.fmovies.to, and charter.fmovies.to, among others. There are plenty of mundane ones too, like server.fmovies.to and cdn.fmovies.to, but everyone has some of those.
Maybe some people just like having fun with off-the-wall naming conventions but for those who like big brands, the full list is a goldmine – almost literally in some cases.
northwesternmutual, nscorp, expediainc, centerpointenergy, visa, citigroup, walmart, omnicomgroup, wellsfargo, pepsico, etc, etc, etc (full list here)