Over the years we have seen dozens of anti-piracy campaigns. Initially, many of these tried to appeal to people’s morals.
You wouldn’t steal a car, right?
This type of messaging doesn’t work for everyone, so more direct tactics are explored as well. These often focus on the risks that are involved.
These risks obviously include legal trouble and settlement letters. However, the perceived chance of running into these is quite small, which generally means that the deterrent effect is as well. A more ‘common’ threat that people face is malware and other types of scams.
Malware and Piracy
In recent years numerous reports have cited the prevalence of malware on pirate sites. These findings are promoted or commissioned by rightsholders and anti-piracy groups, who are apparently very concerned about the digital safety of pirates.
While it is certainly true that malicious pirate sites can host or link to malware and other scams, some of the warnings are a bit overblown. It’s almost as if rightsholders are more concerned about scaring people than making sure they are safe.
Whatever the case, these warnings are slowly starting to creep into official reports. Just a few days ago, the UK Government’s latest IP crime and enforcement report repeated several such findings, including the statement that ‘half of all illegal streamers get hacked.’
While we are willing to believe this conclusion, we don’t see any evidence for it in the report, which is mostly a summary of information provided by copyright holders.
This week, we spotted another campaign that focuses on malware and other cybercrime threats. The campaign is run by the UK anti-piracy group FACT and features a conversation between former Premier League footballer Jimmy Bullard and cybersecurity expert Jamie Woodruff.
In the campaign video, Bullard is encouraged to check out a pirate sports streaming site, and see what dangers lie ahead. What happened next was terrifying.
“Jimmy’s experience with Jamie shines a light on just how risky illegal streaming is, with Jamie explaining how sites are set up to scam, infect devices and deliver terrifying attacks,” FACT commented while announcing the campaign.
These cyber-attacks are not limited to annoying pop-ups and malware. The people who operate these sites may also go after people’s credit card details, or even personal information to commit identity fraud.
“Jamie also demonstrates how easy it is for someone’s identity to be compromised through illegal streaming, whether the sites and apps are free or require payment,” FACT announced.
Research commissioned by FACT recently found that these risks are not rare. Their survey found that 33% of the respondents were hacked, exposed to online scams, or experienced fraud as a result of pirate streaming. And nearly a quarter was asked for personal information while streaming.
In the advertising campaign, Jimmy learns of these threats. However, the cybersecurity expert also mentions even more concerning facts, some of which are worth highlighting separately.
Nude Pictures of Pirates?
The video explains that, when attackers use trojans or viruses to gain access to people’s devices, people’s entire networks could be at risk.
“From there the hacker can start finding any kind of baby cameras, any kind of printers, any kind of connected devices, and then utilize that into potentially stealing secrets,” Woodruff says.
“In the past, we’ve had nude pictures taken through a webcam. And then the individual being held ransom,” he adds.
The security expert doesn’t give any details about the incidents, or whether they happened through a pirate site, but that’s clearly suggested. That said, one can wonder how many people actually watch pirate sports while naked.
The video mentions a wide variety of other risks too. Streaming sites can infect people through custom players, for example. And illegal streaming services for which people have to pay can take your credit card details.
Hacked Bank Account
At that point, Jimmy joins in with a personal anecdote. While it apparently is not related to piracy, the former Premier League player says criminals previously hacked into his bank account, stealing thousands of pounds.
The overall impression the video gives is that sports streaming sites are dangerous and should be avoided. There’s definitely truth to that message, as many of these sites are specifically set up to scam people.
That said, there are also dedicated pirate streaming sites that actually want people to come back. These are less likely to overload visitors with malware and trojans as they rely on recurring advertising eyeballs.
A lesson comes from the name of the anti-piracy campaign itself, which reminds people that “Nothing in Life is Free.” Whether that gentle hint will convince existing and prospective pirates has yet to be seen.