There’s not a lot more frustrating than sitting down to discover that the show or film you want to watch isn’t available on demand from any of the services you subscribe to.
You might have even tried using a VPN app to see if it’s available in another region but when that fails, you probably do what most people do and use Google to see if there’s a way to watch it online for free.
And criminals know this. They use popular films and TV shows to lure victims to websites where they then steal their personal information or install malware on your device which does something similar.
Much of the time we already know the risks of visiting sites like this, but the temptation often outweighs that risk.
McAfee has put together a list of the ten most-targeted TV shows, and a second one for films. These are the titles which are most likely to land you in trouble when you search for them:
Top 10 Most Targeted TV Shows – UK
Top 10 Most Targeted Movies – UK
4.Jane the Virgin
8.Kingsman: The Secret Service
The security company first compiled a list of the 100 most popular TV shows and film titles (according to a range of US publications) and then performed web searches using the following terms alongside those titles:
- Free download
- Free login
- Pirated download
It then used data from its Web Advisor tool, which assesses the reputation of websites and warns you when you attempt to visit one that it considers dangerous, to assign a ‘risk level’ to each of the websites featured in the list of search results.
Homeland, then, is the TV show most likely to lead you to a potentially malicious website and Swingers the most risky film to search for.
It doesn’t mean that other titles not in the list are safe to search for: you still run the risk of inadvertently downloading malware if you visit sites which claim to offer copyrighted content for free.
“With consumers looking to stay entertained while they’re encouraged to stay at home during lockdown, online activity is on the rise and so is cybercrime,” says Jesus Sanchez-Aguilera Garcia, Head of EMEA Consumer at McAfee. “It’s no secret that online criminals attempt to use the allure of popular TV shows and movies to trick unsuspecting consumers into visiting malicious websites that can be used to install malware or steal personal or financial information and passwords. It’s important that consumers stay alert while online and avoid malicious websites that have the potential to cause harm.”
How you can stay safe when streaming video online
Obviously, the safest way is to get your video from a reputable streaming service such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+ and local on-demand services such as BBC iPlayer.
Downloading torrents might be tempting, but with files often riddled with malware, it’s not worth the risk. Just don’t do it.
That’s trickier, of course, if it’s your kids who are doing it, so install good antivirus software on devices which can run it such as PCs, laptops, phones and tablets.
You might also want to install parental control software which prevents them from visiting certain websites. Typically you can choose to block categories of sites, but it’s also possible to blacklist specific sites.