‘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.

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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.