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‘Dangerous’ football streams are putting you at risk online



Ever watched a game of footie through less-than-legitimate means? That’s risky business, apparently…

Viewing illegal football streams is a “dangerous” activity and should be avoided, according to a new study.

Even browsing sites that offer such services is fraught with peril, say Stony Brook University researchers who suggest computer devices used to watch the dodgy footage are at risk.

What’s more, the study, titled “It’s Free for a Reason: Exploring the Ecosystem of Free Live Streaming Services”, says the personal privacy of users could be compromised by such pages.

Researchers examined thousands of illegal streaming services and discovered that 50% of the websites were “malicious in nature, offering malware, malicious browser extensions, and all sorts of scam pages”.

It’s said that while the sites themselves might not have malicious intent, the problem lies in their dependence on advertisements, many of which are harmful.

What’s more, many of the sites prompt users to download unsafe browser plug-ins to watch the streams. These extensions can cause dodgy advertisements to appear on normally safe websites, and even change websites.

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“[To watch the stream] you have to install the extension, and once the user installs the extensions, it can infect any website the user is visiting,” says lead researcher Zubair Rafique, speaking to the BBC.

Rafique continues: “So, if a person installs an extension to watch a stream, and then visits a site like BBC.com, this extension can actually change the contents of BBC.com and include malicious links.”

“This is extremely dangerous,” he adds.

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It’s also worth noting that over 64% of the streaming sites investigated had been targeted with copyright violation notices. As such, users are also at risk legally for viewing copyrighted content unlawfully.

What’s your take on illegal streaming services? Let us know in the comments.


February 1, 2016, 2:07 pm

There are plenty of 'private' invite only sports streaming sites that are ad free and cost as little as £1 per month for proper HD streams without the nonsense the free ones come with. Those free sites are a mess and not worth the hassle. In my experience the article is correct about the state of free illegal streams. They are best avoided.

Mark Collins

February 1, 2016, 4:45 pm

Do you have any links for these "private" sites? ;-)


February 1, 2016, 5:15 pm

Not my place to say. :)
There are other simple options. Myself, I currently have a VPN set-up which allows me to connect to Indian servers and watch star sports for free (legally) They show a lot of the premier football matches for free in India this season.
The cost of a VPN... i paid $40 for 1 year. So it's a tiny amount in £s. The VPN also allows you to go down other routes. For example you can purchase a season ticket in asian countries for full access to the premiership with all matches covered for a nominal fee. (again all perfectly legal)
Bein sports subscription is also very cheap when purchased over a VPN.

Basically a VPN opens up many avenues for top quality streams from legal providers. Plus you have the protection of added security a VPN provides thrown in. That would be my recommended route.


February 1, 2016, 7:14 pm

And which is the more dangerous to your bank account?
The proven danger of having £50+ lifted month after month by the likes of BT, or the putative risk of malware getting through your defences.


February 1, 2016, 8:06 pm

I use a VPN too, but recently discovered that the BBC iPlayer no longer works with a UK IP address when I am located in the UK. And the same with Netflix. It seems that you can be secure or watch online TV and films...but not both. :(

George West

February 2, 2016, 12:10 am

Simply avoid using the links.


February 2, 2016, 9:59 am

As long as you don't download or install anything, why would you be at risk?


February 3, 2016, 1:10 pm

If you have a decent antivirus and firewall you won't have a problem. It's not rocket surgery. I recommend ESET Smart Security, it has been the best out there for a good few years now.


February 5, 2016, 6:54 pm

Get a better VPN. Many are poor and don't own their own servers but just hire them. Meaning they have much less control over their own business. You want to be looking for a VPN that is termed 'tier 1' All tier 1 providers own their own infrastructure and have many spare IP's available to them to deploy the moment a service (such as iplayer) blocks them. As of right now my VPN still allows me access to netflix USA from the UK even after their recent threats.


February 5, 2016, 7:05 pm

I've got one of the best and it is a Tier 1 network! '...(our)VPN Service is powered by a state of the art, tier-1 multi-gigabit private network'.

Still doesn't work.


February 5, 2016, 7:08 pm

I guess it's times like this you find out how good your VPN provider really is. I'd look elsewhere. IPVanish are good.


February 5, 2016, 7:33 pm

True. It's PIA (PrivateInternetAcess), will have to look at alternatives. Thanks for the recommendation.


February 11, 2016, 5:04 am

I don't even know where to start with that. I'm just gonna let you carry on in your own deluded world. I pity you.


February 11, 2016, 5:09 am

John if you don't know how those sites work do yourself a favour. Keep quiet and just observe. You just make yourself look silly otherwise. It isn't that simple.
And you should definitely avoid such sites with your outlook.

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