Free-to-Air Collective

Streaming Illegally? You Might Be Exposed More Than You Think

People turn to illegal streaming for various reasons. Most often it is due to high subscription prices and in the absence of legal forms of watching desired TV channels. These seemingly low-priced solutions sometimes prove to come at a high cost, because they can carry numerous malicious programs, viruses and various other dangers.  Illegal streaming services can cause damage to your device, leave your data exposed and directly support piracy. 

Illegal streaming does not only pose a risk to one’s safety but is also a global issue. Piracy is a form of organized crime that harms artists and producers, but also affects whole economies. The European Union Intellectual Property Office report found that trade in pirated goods had grown from $250 billion annually in 2008 to more than $461 billion in 2013. It is predicted that the negative impacts of piracy would put 5.4 million legitimate jobs at risk by 2022. Courts, law enforcement agencies, and various institutions, are combating counterfeiting and piracy, but we, as conscientious citizens should also contribute, it is our legal and moral obligation. 

Illegal streaming makes you 28 times more exposed to malicious software

The segment of raising public awareness is crucial in order to acquaint citizens with the essence of intellectual property rights. We should all be informed about all the risks of illegal streaming and spread this information in order to use devices adequately and spare ourselves from consequences. What worries us the most is that many people are not truly aware of the consequences of illegal streaming and the damage it can cause. The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), the British agency against audiovisual piracy provides in their report the statistic that you are 28 times more likely to be infected by malicious software when using illegal streaming! 

In the first place, there is a possibility that there is malware on streaming services through which hackers and criminals can get information about our bank cards, home addresses and other personal data that they can use or sell on the black market.

Piracy is a lucrative “business” that turns billions of dollars a year. It comes at no surprise hackers put a lot of effort into getting your data, which makes illegal apps and services constantly unsafe. They are using different techniques to get people’s data. Here are some of the most common methods used by hackers.

Criminals accessing and abusing your personal data

Since we voluntarily register on illegal channels and enter our data, we need to be aware of the risks it carries. Our data may be sold and forwarded to various advertising companies, as the General Data Protection Regulation does not limit those services. 

When downloading suspicious apps, they often install malware which provides access to your information to a third-party. Firstly, they collect personal credentials, names, addresses, and of course, credit card information. They can use most of these credentials for future attacks, and they can sell them at high prices. Stolen personal identities and data can be used for a broad spectrum of criminal acts, individually or more often by combining them. The most common are theft, fraud, falsification and violation of privacy, and related criminal acts of embezzlement, extortion, harassment, blackmail, child pornography. 

Criminals usually sell info in packages that consist of names, email addresses, phone numbers. The fresher the information, the more money they get. They mostly sell packages on the so-called ” dark web”, a set of encrypted networks that have been intentionally hidden from view and require special software to access. 

Big corporate passwords and email addresses, government and military addresses are the most lucrative accounts. Such financial information is usually sold in packages and criminals who have the ‘right’ contacts can easily buy those packages with dozens or hundreds of personal details from credit cards on the black market.

Identity Theft 

Criminal organizations use stolen identities to file false tax returns for a refund and to defraud the finance ministry and the tax administration. They usually collect data packages separately (names, addresses, social security numbers and other financial info). When they collect enough information, then they compile a false tax return for a refund. In 2017 the Identity Theft Resource Center reported a 44.7% increase in the number of data breaches totalling $16.8 billion in damages in the United States due to identity fraud. If you believe to be a victim of identity theft, make sure to read this guide

Cybercriminals open false medical companies using stolen patients’ data and charge funds for bogus interventions. Medical data on one patient is worth about $ 250 on the black market. This is a big issue, especially in the U.S. It is estimated that about 10% of the funds earmarked for the Medicare program end up with fraudsters. The frequent targets are also senior citizens, but also everybody else. Their tactic is to send people invoices with smaller amounts which ordinary citizens will most often pay without doubting it. 

Your device might be used for crypto mining 

One of the most lucrative actions nowadays is malware incidents that contain tools for cryptocurrencies mining. Your device could secretly be mining various cryptocurrencies, using the power of your processor to generate new and potentially lucrative “coins”, from which you would not profit but someone else will. Coin-miners most often access your devices in the following ways:

 -Malicious web links (spam messages).

 -Web links that exist in various forms, e.g. as fake “like” buttons, via changed banners on sites or if you already have PUP (potentially unwanted software) installed on your computer.

 -Malicious attachments in an email.

Be aware at all times of these issues when using your devices and keep in mind that there are people that have a vast interest in your data. 


And if you are using the P2P network to download or stream “free” content that should actually be paid or is not legally supported in your country, you are committing an illegal act. You should also know that according to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act distribution of copyright material is punishable by law. Downloading and sharing unlicensed content is almost always illegal, and by doing so, you are participating in the piracy scheme, committing a crime, and risking being sued. In 2018 there were more than 3,300 new cases filed against BitTorrent users.

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