Article From May 2, 2019
Consumer Education Specialist, Federal Trade Commission
The popularity of video streaming services has taken off in the past few years. It’s become easier to stream video through smart TVs, streaming boxes that connect to your not-so-smart TV, and even streaming sticks. These devices let you stream video through popular apps like Hulu, Netflix, SlingTV, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube TV. Unfortunately, there are other apps that let you watch illegal pirated content. And hackers are using those apps to spread malware. Here’s what you need to know.
Illegal pirated content is nothing new. We’ve alerted youthat websites offering free movies and TV shows can infect your computer with malware. But the landscape is shifting. Purveyors of pirated content are now spreading apps and add-ons that work with popular streaming devices. If you download one of these illegal pirate apps or add-ons, the chances are good that you’ll also download malware.
If malicious software on the pirate app gets inside your wireless network, it may try to infect other devices connected to your network. That could put at risk the computer you use for sensitive transactions like online banking or shopping. It could also expose your photos and other personal information. The malware could allow hackers to:
Steal your credit card information and sell it to other hackers on the dark web.
Steal the log in credentials for sites you shop on and go on a spending spree.
Steal the log in credentials for your bank account and steal your money.
Use your computer to commit crimes.
Malware may also make your computer slow or non-responsive, serve pop-up windows or ads, or take you to sites you didn’t want to visit.
If you want to avoid downloading malware when you stream video, don’t watch pirated content. Period. Not online and not through a video streaming device.
If you get malware on your computer,update your computer’s security software and then run a scan.