This post is brought to you by Astro.
Before the wide adoption of the internet in Malaysia, pirated content was distributed through physical mediums, primarily CDs and DVDs. Most of you might have seen a whole table full of pirated movies being sold at your neighbourhood pasar malam.
In the current digital age, piracy has become even more widespread with the internet allowing for easy access to illegal unpaid content. Moreover, with many new movies now debuting on streaming platforms at the same time as their theatrical release, it just makes it that much easier for people to pirate the content. They no longer need to worry about sneaking video recorders into the cinema or being caught in the act.
To put an end to digital piracy, the Malaysian government has passed an upgraded bill of the Copyright (Amendment) Act 2022 which suggests any individual or business that commits or facilitates copyright infringement through streaming technology will be punishable by law. The new amendment introduces punishments for offences related to streaming technology and those found guilty will be fined no less than RM10,000 and no more than RM200,000 or a maximum of 20 years of imprisonment or both.
However, you might be thinking to yourself,
Unfortunately, there are other dangers aside from copyright infringement because many websites hosting illegally obtained content are brimming with malicious software.
According to research by US-based cybersecurity firm RiskIQ, 30% of websites that distribute pirated movies and TV shows exposed consumers to malicious software or malware for short. Though it is a relatively small percentage, it is still enough to affect 12 million Americans! In addition, users who visited piracy sites are 28 times more likely to get malware from torrent sites compared to licensed or mainstream media websites.
Since the internet is shared by the whole world, we Malaysians are just as vulnerable to these malicious attacks when we visit websites hosting pirated content.
Here are some examples of malware that you could be potentially exposed to:
Adware normally gets into your system when you download unverified software, like a torrent client. Once installed, the adware will infect your system by displaying ads everywhere on your computer. The software will also track your internet browsing data and send it back to the admin of the software. Additionally, the ads that are displayed are not regulated so they could lead you to a website loaded with malware.
There is also potential for users to fall prey to scams from ads offering deals too good to be true. In 2021, Bukit Aman’s commercial crime investigation department reported close to 16,000 online cheating cases with losses amounting to about RM380 million!
For a virus attack, a user doesn’t even need to install any software. Just visiting the website is enough for the virus to be downloaded to your computer and start its infection. Another way a virus can enter your system is when you download a file from a malicious source. One method the admin of the website can trick a user to download the virus-infected software is by simply disguising it as the “Download” or “Play” button. When clicked, the user will be instructed to download and install a software in order to watch the movie.
As easy as that, your computer is now infected with a virus. Depending on the type of virus, it may or may not be easy to remove.
Ransomware is a form of extortion and is executed when a user opens software downloaded from a malicious website. The program will encrypt your data, meaning it will be locked. You will then find a note from the attacker, demanding a fee, typically in cryptocurrency, to unlock your data.
This could lead to the loss of sensitive data, especially if you don’t have a backup copy.
Remote Access Trojans (RATs)
A trojan is a form of spyware that secretly runs in the background, quietly collecting data and sending it back to the admin of the software. Data such as sensitive files, like financial information and private pictures can be stolen. Moreover, your keyboard strokes are also recorded, so your credentials to your bank account can be stolen as well. Additionally, the spyware can even access the microphone and webcam to listen and watch your every move.
Based on a report by Asia Video Industry Association (AVIA), Time to Compromise, a typical user visiting pirated sites could be infected by ransomware, several trojan horses, and other advanced persistent threats (APT) within 42 seconds on a Windows machine.
An illegal Android Box is just as dangerous
On the other hand, if you think by using an illicit streaming device (ISD) like an illegal Android box, you can be safe from these attacks, you may be wrong. Since your Android Box is connected to the same network as your other devices, there is a potential for malware to use your Android Box as a gateway to infect your other devices.
These ISDs are also not regulated and don’t provide any parental control. Therefore, your children could potentially be exposed to age-inappropriate content like pornography and R-rated movies. At the very least, your children can be exposed to inappropriate adult-themed ads.
Is all this trouble worth it just to watch a movie for free?
To ensure that you don’t fall victim, and also to protect yourself and your family from cyber-threats, please follow these simple steps:
- Report unauthorised websites or explicit content to The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) through:
- Hotline via 1-800-886-800,
- Enforcement Command Centre via 03-8882 6088/6245
- WhatsApp at 019-279 4317 / 019-848 8000
- Email to [email protected]
- Use only legitimate services
- Educate your loved ones and peers on the dangers of digital piracy
The safest and easiest way to enjoy entertainment content is to watch it on a legitimate platform. You watch your favourite movie with greater peace of mind knowing that you are safe from the law and cyber-threats while supporting the entertainment industry.
Malaysian content and entertainment provider Astro has been entertaining consumers since 1996. Today, you get access to a wide selection of entertainment with Astro, including streaming services like Astro GO, HBO GO, Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, TVBAnywhere+ and iQIYI. With so many choices on offer, you will most likely find the content you are looking for.