The majority of adults and teenagers who access pirated content are experiencing cybercrimes including the theft of their personal details, fraud and viruses.
That’s according to research from trade body Creative Content Australia (CCA), coinciding with the launch of CCA’s 30-second anti-piracy ad – Piracy. You’re Exposed – in cinemas and on subscription and free-to-air television networks across Australia.
The campaign highlights the increased cyber-safety risks to pirates with 21 per cent of Australians aged 18+ admitting to pirating content in 2019.
Almost one in four teenagers know someone who has experienced piracy-related malware or viruses, while 62 per cent of adults and 75 per cent of persistent teen pirates experience cyber breaches.
The study reveals malware has become big business with pirate sites now exposing users to malicious software that can steal personal data such as email addresses, bank details, credit cards, passwords, photos and videos, and facilitate identity theft.
“If you visit pirate websites, even the law can’t protect you,” warned Graham Burke AO, Chairman of Creative Content Australia. “You are going to a criminally dangerous neighbourhood. Pirate sites are big businesses and exist solely to make money by robbing you, or worse. This is an area where your cyber security is in danger and malware, blackmail and identity theft are commonplace.”
Links on copyright infringing sites are an exceptionally common way of propagating malware on the Internet. The criminals exploiting stolen movies and TV shows have diversified to make money by stealing consumers’ personal information. “My hope is that these findings serve as a reminder for those considering pirating. It’s simply not worth the risk,” advised Burke.
“Unsurprisingly, illegal pirate sites have long been associated with malware and cybercrime,” noted CCA Executive Director Lori Flekse. “The piracy ecosystem is built on making money from stolen screen content. Often uninformed of the risks, users of these sites are baited into trying something they think is free or cheap but comes with a hidden cost: fraud, viruses, loss of personal data and exposure to potentially unwanted programs or unsavoury online activity such as gambling and pornography. Is it worth the risk for a free movie?”
“The more you pirate, the more likely you are to experience a cyber security issue, with persistent teen pirates experiencing more than double the number of issues than those pirating less frequently,” she added.
With the estimated cost to an individual who is attacked by malware in excess of hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, reformed hacker and CTRL Group Co-Founder and CEO Bastien Treptel has seen first-hand the dangers of online piracy. “We find that pirates have a false-sense of confidence that they are able to avoid malware when they’re accessing pirated content, but this just isn’t the case,” he said. “The web can be a dangerous place but the risk of experiencing cybercrime, like a virus or loss of personal data, is heightened when accessing pirate sites. Anyone who is protective of their data privacy should avoid these sites altogether.”