A report suggests that one in three piracy sites contain malware, with distribution of the malicious content estimated to be worth $70 million dollars a year.

The issue of piracy in the internet age is a hotly-contested subject within the online¬†community. With the level of video game piracy much higher than publishers and developers would expect, some have even taken creative steps to get their point across about the damage that piracy can do. A recent report, however, may put off some would-be pirates from trying to get hold of their next game or movie for free. The study suggests that one in three piracy sites are capable of installing malware on the user’s PC.

The report comes from the Digital Citizens Alliance, and concludes that a third of all piracy sites such as torrent sites have malicious content. The study, which was conducted on behalf of the Alliance by San Francisco-based cyber security firm RiskIQ, goes even further, and offered a staggering prediction regarding just how much this malware was worth to hackers. According to the report, the malware industry is worth approximately $70 million.

The Digital Citizens Alliance, which is a non-profit organization that focuses on the threats that may face the public online, investigated 800 sites before reaching its conclusion. The sites included the aforementioned torrenting sites, as well as those that offer streaming services for copyrighted content. PC users who visited those sites were 28 times more likely to receive a nasty infection than those who did not.


The Alliance also warned about the ramifications that these infections could cause. Malware can be used by hackers to commit identity fraud, commit DDoS attacks, sell personal information, or even take control of the user’s PC. Spurred on by several high-level cyber breaches of customer databases, potentially including the SOE hack a few years ago, the study was conducted to give greater awareness to internet users to ensure public knowledge about malware remains high.

The threats from video game piracy are all-too real for those who are on the receiving end of malware. One user who decided to download an illegal copy of Fallout 4 found out exactly how much financial damage a hack can cause. As a result of the malware-ridden files that the user downloaded, they went on to have $1,900 in Bitcoin funds stolen from them.

It’s not just piracy that gamers will need to look out for, however. A savvy eye is needed when downloading any content online, as otherwise-legitimate sites can also be a haven for hackers. Some Grand Theft Auto 5 users have found out the hard way that the game’s mods have had problems with malware, whilst League of Legends gamers in Asia were also targeted with malware built into the game’s installer. Perhaps gamers need to take heed of the Alliance, and be a little more careful online.

Source: Digital Citizens Alliance

tags: PC