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Adware is a common feature of piracy sites

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A new investigation warns that piracy sites are inundating visitors with dangerous advertisements that force victims to download viruses, malware, and even ransomware.

According to studies published by the Digital Citizens Alliance, White Bullet, and Unit 221B, malvertising is rampant on piracy sites, where users look for free media including movies, TV shows, and sports events.

A malicious ad may claim to be an antivirus product and advise the user to click “Remove Virus” to fix their machine.. However, clicking the button would have the reverse effect and expose the device to virus, and possibly ransomware as well. Some viruses spread in this method can steal personal banking information, install spyware that records users’ activity, or mark the device for future attacks.

Prime sector of the economy

According to the report, malvertising on piracy sites has also developed into a significant sector, with piracy operators generating an estimated $121 million in income from it.

They account for about 12% of all adverts displayed on piracy sites, with visitors from the United States contributing over 70% of the total revenue of $121 million ($68.3 million). In fact, malvertising is so successful on piracy sites that nearly 80% of them expose consumers to malware through their advertisements.

Moreover, the quantities are enormous. In total, 321 million adverts were shown to people who visited pirate sites.

Peter Szyszko, CEO and founder of White Bullet, states that the data “confirms what content owners have suspected for years — that using piracy services is likely to hurt customers through malware infection.”

“We compile massive amounts of advertising data on piracy services and monitor its worth. Ad tech businesses, in addition to brands, are complicit in subsidizing piracy through ad placement, therefore they too need to be careful about where they position advertising and what kinds of ads they accept. The goal of piracy services is to generate as much revenue as possible, whether from legitimate but inappropriate advertisements or from malicious third parties. Advertisers must cease supporting pirated material or everyone will lose in the long run, including creators and consumers.

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