Illegal Streaming: Know the Risks

The ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 Premiere was pirated 55 million times in 24 hours last week, raising concerns for the dangers of illegal streaming and torrents.

Game of Thrones returned to HBO with some of its highest ratings yet last Sunday, but even those numbers were dwarfed by an even bigger audience – illegal streamers. The Season 8 premiere had almost 55 million pirated views across illegal streams, downloads and torrents in the first 24 hours, according to analytics firm MUSO.

Of those 55 million pirated views, MUSO claims that a vast majority (76.6 percent) came from unofficial streams of the episode, with web downloads accounting for 12.2 percent of views, public torrents 10.8 percent and private torrents for 0.5 percent.

Out of the 55 million people who watched illegally last week, how many people do you think will be affected by malicious viruses and malware? By visiting unofficial streaming websites and downloading torrents, you are putting yourself at heightened risk of being a victim of malware, fraud and even fines from your internet provider.

  • Streaming pirated films, TV programmes and sporting events is a crime.

  • 1 in 4 people who stream illegally have been affected by viruses and malware.

  • 1 in 10 people who stream illegally have been a victim of fraud.

  • 1 in 20 people who stream illegally have had their personal details stolen.

Visiting illegal/pirate websites alone can infect your devices with dangerous malware. In 2016, a study conducted by the Digital Citizens Alliance found that 30% of content theft websites exposed consumers to malware, with the types of malware and techniques constantly changing.

Content theft websites use a range of deceptive techniques in order to trick consumers into clicking false buttons and links which can lead to malware infecting your devices. For example, many illegal streaming websites feature overlay adverts which have fake close buttons or buttons which move when a mouse is hovered over them.

In some cases, clicking anywhere on the site, including fake buttons, can lead to malicious pop-up adverts which are hard to escape. Cyber criminals are becoming increasingly deceptive by creating what seems to be genuine adverts and websites. For example, many users have encountered a warning on their system from a fake ‘Windows Defender’ app alerting you of potential infections on your system, encouraging you to scan for viruses. Pop-up adverts can also encourage you to install a ‘new version’ of software you already have, such as an Adobe Flash Player update which is designed to trick users into installing malicious software.

When your system is infected with malware, this allows cyber criminals to access your sensitive data. Furthermore, downloaded malware can lead to Remote Access Trojans being installed on your devices, allowing remote access to your system, files and even your webcam.

How can I be safer?

To avoid being a victim, simply watch your favourite TV shows via a trusted and legal source. If you have used illegal streaming and torrent websites in the past, here are a few simple tips to ensure you are more secure:

1. Perform an anti-virus scan of your systems

If you have visited illegal streaming websites or you have downloaded video files from untrustworthy websites, it is essential that you perform an anti-virus scan of your system to identify and remove any malware on your system.

2. Use Task Manager to escape malicious adverts

If you ever find yourself on an untrustworthy site which targets you with a malicious advert that you cannot seem to close down, use Task Manager to force quit the application (usually your web browser). You can launch the Task Manager by typing CTRL + ALT + Delete on your windows keyboard, or Command + Option + Esc on your Apple Mac keyboard.

3. Change all of your passwords

It is good cyber hygiene to change your passwords every once in a while. However, if you have been in contact with malicious websites, it is a good idea to change your passwords immediately just to be safe.

4. Ask Curious Frank!

Do you worry that your online activity may lead to a data breach or cyber attack in your home or office? Curious Frank can help minimise the risks. Check out or wide range of services that can help you and your organisation become more cyber resilient, click here.

- Curious Frank

Are you curious about cyber security? We'll be frank about it! From security consultations, cyber security training, digital foot-printing, extensive security tests and more, Curious Frank the best range of services to help individuals and organisations be more cyber secure. Find out more.

Useful Links
Site Information
Follow Us
Contact Us

A division of the Scottish Business Resilience Centre

Oracle, Blackness Road

Springfield, Linlithgow

EH49 7LR

  • Twitter - White Circle
  • LinkedIn - White Circle
  • Facebook - White Circle
  • Spotify - White Circle
  • YouTube - White Circle

© Curious Frank 2019