No, pirate sites are not the main source of malware

Those who know a bit of how the internet really works also are ware there is a disinformation campaign surrounding piracy. We are not talking about condoning downloading and/or using illegal content but about the myth saying “one download, one unsold copy,” which was even debunked by the European Union despite its attempts to hide the truth.

However, the alleged dip in sales is not the only argument against piracy, as some reports claim that pirate sites and pirate content streamed via Kodi are a major source of malware. This is what reports like the one published by Internet Matters, a UK non-profit group, to protect children from the online world, and Mumsnet, a UK forum for parents. Both teams published a guide titled “Internet safety and the dangers of digital piracy.”

According to the guide, “if your children stream illegal content online, also known as digital piracy, it can expose them and you to cyber threats, disturbing pop-ups and unexpected harmful content.” We certainly had to mention Kodi, as anti-piracy lobbyists have been keeping a close eye on it. “The risks typically associated with digital piracy can take place on dodgy websites and preloaded streaming devices, sometimes known as Kodi boxes, but they can also occur through any number of illegitimate apps on mobiles, tablets or smart TVs.” It is clearly known that streaming content from unofficial sources is not good if you want to remain secure. However, baseless statements like the one below can make people doubt the guide.

Illegal pirate sites are the most common source of malware infections, and streaming pirate content directly puts your devices at risk.

Are pirate sites really the largest source of malware? According to F-Secure’s Mikko Hypponen, pirate sites have never been the main source of malware, as the most common ways of getting infected are via malicious email attachments, browser plugins and extensions and web exploit kits. Avast’s Luis Corrons states that websites are not the only way malware get distributed, although he says that “the problem with pirate sites is it’s hard to know who is behind them.”

BitDefender’s Bogdan Botezatu added that users do not typically interact with webpages if they use add-ons to stream content via Kodi, minimizing the chances of being infected. In fact, the biggest risk is found in the components that exploit vulnerabilities in apps.

However, this does not mean that we can risk not taking measures to prevent children from accessing inappropriate content for their age, which is something that should also be done on legitimate pages like YouTube, Facebook and Vimeo. Additionally, it is important to bear in mind that unofficial sources are always risky for the users’ security, even if experts say that pirate sites and streaming via Kodi are not the main sources of malware.