‘Free download’, ‘Free login’, ‘Free’, ‘Torrent’, ‘Pirated download’ — these are some of the top searches clubbed with modifying terms, such film or television titles, that have brought up malware attacks and cyber-vulnerabilities for users as they try to avoid subscription-based OTT platforms or paywall-based content.
Traffic across piracy websites has increased as the COVID-19 lockdowns ensue, seeing online video consumption also increasing. MUSO, a digital piracy authority, reported that piracy rose 62% in India in the last week of March compared with the last week of February. Trending piracy sites include names like Stremio, Popcorn Time, Solarmovie, 123Movies and Tamil Rockers.
That said, McAfee researched the risks Indian consumers could potentially be exposed to when browsing the web for popular online entertainment content.
“The lockdown induced surge in online entertainment traffic has brewed the perfect storm for cybercriminals. They are following and targeting consumers’ obsession with accessing content – particularly for free. They entice users to visit potentially malicious websites, designed to install malware or steal passwords and personal information,” said Venkat Krishnapur, McAfee India’s Vice President of Engineering and Managing Director in a company statement. “In these uncertain times, it is crucial that consumers stay vigilant, invest in responsible online behaviour and recognise that if something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.”
From an analysis of more than one hundred most talked about entertainment titles available across today’s leading streaming providers, McAfee identified a ‘top 10 web risk list’ for both television and movies — ranked in order of web search risk (from highest to lowest).
Protection tips straight from McAfee
- Be careful what you click: Users looking to catch up on season 2 of Ghoul, or a way to have Gully Boy on repeat should be cautious and only access entertainment content directly from a reliable source. The safest thing to do is to subscribe to a streaming site that offers the content or download the movie from sources like Netflix or Amazon, instead of downloading a ‘free’ version from a website that could potentially contain malware.
- Refrain from using illegal streaming sites. Many illegal streaming sites are riddled with malware disguised as pirated video files. Do your device a favor and stream the show from a reputable source.
- Protect your online realm with a cybersecurity solution. Send your regards to malicious actors with a comprehensive security solution. This can help protect you from malware, phishing attacks, and other threats.
- Use parental control software. Kids are tech savvy and may search for movies by themselves. Ensure that limits are set on your child’s device and use software that can help minimise exposure to potentially malicious or inappropriate websites.
Top 10 Web Risk List: Television, India
1. Delhi Crime
2. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Top 10 Web Risk List: Movies, India
1. Mardaani 2
3. Jawaani Jaaneman
5. Love Aaj Kal
9. Gully Boy
Keep an eye out for…
Most-targeted television segment: Regional Shows: According to McAfee, global players are recognising the need to build hyper local, India-centric offerings. Viewership of regional language content is growing, and the rise in consumption of vernacular TV shows in metros and semi-urban India is an apt reflection of this. Driving the demand for regional, UGC and short content is evident with shows such as Delhi Crime, Panchayat, Akoori and Ghoul leading the pack. Establishing the importance of basic cybersecurity hygiene is a key element in developing an informed netizen.
Most-targeted movie segment: Bollywood Films: When it comes to movies in India, it is no surprise that Bollywood is king. More than a third of the movies featuring in this list are box office hits like Mardaani 2, Chapaak, Love Aaj Kal, Baahubali and Gully Boy. This finding suggests that the popularity of Bollywood cinema may drive consumers to search for free access to trending and latest releases that they aren’t currently subscribed to.