Many times we have all been told, ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch.’ That adage could not be truer than in the realm of online digital piracy. A lot of computer users turn to the hundreds of various piracy websites online to download premium software that have been cracked. Thus, would not require them to pay the owner for the use of the software, as they would if they were to get it from the legitimate vendors’ and retailers’ websites.
Some of you may use ignorance in your defense, especially if everyone around you has been downloading pirated software. Well, as it turns out, these piracy websites are racking in millions of dollar annually through the adware and malware they secretly install on your local system (PC).
Apparently, whenever you visit a piracy website, there are malware that get installed on your PC in sneaky ways that the average PC user cannot detect. So your PC ends up with intrusive ads, gets shady malware.
How piracy websites makes money off your PC was unearthed by a study title Digital Bait done by the RiskIQ and commissioned by Digital Citizens Alliance. The study was done on 800 piracy websites, which were sampled and the report produced showed that one in three piracy websites distribute malware to the sites’ visitors.
In part, the Digital Bait report reads: “By exploiting stolen content to bait mainstream consumers, bad actors have uncovered an effective means to hack into millions of computers. Baiting Internet users, stealing their personal information, and taking control of their computers is becoming big business; an estimated $70 million per year just from peddling malware.”
The report further reveals that Trojan infections are the most common form of attacks, accounting for 54 percent of the attacks. The piracy websites also use adware to rack in revenues from the visitors, and they complement these with other forms of attacks.
- Visitors initiated downloads account for 55% of the attacks
- Drive-by downloads account for 45% of the attacks
Up to until recent year, most piracy websites depended on ads displayed on the sites to monetize their activities. However, with the increasing usage of ad blockers by many Internet users, they have been forced to resort to more intrusive ways to make revenues from their visitors. In essence, the advent of ad blockers has sparked off an unprecedented increase in malware delivery.
Elias Manousou the CEO or RiskIQ, says there is a higher risk of malware from torrent websites. He says, “While some torrent sites directly host malicious programs, most torrent publishers and malvertisers use ad and affiliate networks to deliver their exploits and malicious programs in exchange for payment.”
If you would like to have a full view of the Digital Bait report, click here.