Content theft sites and malware

The threat of malware could turn people away from piracy

Last week the Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA)* released a study that found websites offering free, pirated content were rife with malware.  According to the report, 33% of content theft sites exposed users to malware.  Every month 12 million U.S. visitors to these sites open themselves up to the theft of personal data, or worse.

To assess the impact that this malware threat might have on American’s web surfing habits the DCA conducted two surveys on December 10-13.

The first examined behavior and opinions of 1,000 Americans, while the second focused on 500 Americans aged 18-29 (an age group more likely to partake in piracy).  The main takeaway–once people realize malware is a threat–is that respondents would be much less likely to visit these sites.

  • Fifty-three percent of Americans aged 18-29 acknowledge having visited content theft sites, nearly three times as much as the overall population.
  • Seventy percent said that they knew these websites illegally offered content, while 13 percent said they knew it was “wrong” but weren’t sure if it was illegal or not.
  • Sixty-three percent said that if visiting these content theft websites exposed them to malware they would steer clear of them in the future.

Figures for all age groups show an even great aversion to the malware risk with 82% reporting they’d steer clear of such websites.  This, coupled with the growing influence (and traffic) of legit streaming sites like Netflix give some cause for optimism in the ongoing battle against online pirate profiteers.  Below are more results from the survey.

Malware on pirate websites

Malware risk of piracy websites

Malware and piracy

*Disclosure-I’m a member of the Digital Citizens Alliance Advisory Board