Thursday, 1 May 2014

Is Your Child's Computer at risk?

Is your child’s computer at risk?
Waterloo Road actress and mum Zoe Lucker warns of the dangers of ‘bogus features’ lurking behind pirate film and TV sites
-          New research reveals that 97% of the most visited illegal film and TV sites contain malware or credit card scams
-          3 in 4 people experienced problems with their device after visiting pirate websites
-          These ‘hidden extras’ which can open the door to cyber criminals

Mum and actress Zoe Lucker is today warning parents of the unwanted and sometimes risky ‘bogus features’ that often come with using pirate websites. A new study which analysed 30 of the most frequently used illegal film and TV sites in the UK found that 90% contained malware and other ‘Potentially Unwanted Programmes’ (PUPs) designed to deceive or defraud unwitting viewers.

The rogue sites are also rife with credit card scams, with over two thirds (67%) of the 30 sites containing credit card fraud.  In total, just one of the 30 pirate sites monitored over a two week period showed no signs of malware or credit card fraud. 

The study, carried out for by leading content and brand protection intelligence analysts Incopro, reveals the extent of malware hidden on pirate sites. Most commonly the malware is disguised behind innocent looking ‘Play’ buttons which viewers unwittingly click on thinking it will play the film or TV show, but which actually trigger the malware or other programmes to start downloading onto the device.

What are ‘bogus features’?
·         Malware and PUPs are broad terms used to describe a variety of nasty computer programmes that can be both difficult and costly to remove and can be used to run cyber scams.
·         The most popular type of malware, found on 10 of the sites studied, installs pop-up ads on people’s devices. These are not just annoying for the user, but are actually part of a scam designed to generate revenue for site owners from click-throughs and can lead to other types of malware being installed.
·         A more dangerous type of malware, found on five of the pirate sites, are known as ‘rootkits’ which fully expose a user’s data to the cyber scammer and allow them to access the device remotely.

New research from ICM, commissioned alongside the website study, revealed just how easy it is to fall victim to such scams.
The five biggest offenders most commonly encountered after accessing film and TV from unofficial sources:
1)      Annoying pop-up ads: Nearly 2 in 5 (39%) experienced pop-up adverts which are difficult to get rid of and can be used to generate revenue from click-throughs as part of an online scam
2)      Viruses: 1 in 3 (32%) downloaded a virus on to their device, often leading to their devices being unusable or having to be fixed
3)      Malware: More than a quarter (28%) accidentally downloaded malware on their device
4)      Stolen data: Almost 1 in 5 (17%) lost personal data or had personal information stolen
5)      Illicit material: 14% were exposed to material such as pornography or violent images

As the research reveals that families are most at risk of the dangers of using pirate websites, actress and mum, Zoe Lucker, is warning parents not to get hoodwinked by unofficial films and TV shows posing as the real deal. 

Working with to raise awareness of the problem, Zoe Lucker commented:  “As a parent I know how much my kids love to watch their favourite films and TV shows online, but I was shocked to find out just how easy it is to put your online safety and security at risk without even knowing. It’s why I’m urging parents to learn how to access film and TV content online safely and legally, and check out the tools and help that are available, such as”

Top tips to avoid hidden malware:
·         Start by visiting  – a one-stop shop where you can find all films, all above board, all in one place.  The website shows films in all formats where they’re available legally.
·         Beware of multiple ‘Play’ or ‘Download’ buttons on a site – they are designed to trick you into potentially downloading unwanted software onto your computer. If you’re uncertain, close the page and head to or to find a verified legal site.
·         Don’t be fooled by well-known brands and logos – pirate sites often use tactics to look like official sites such as incorporating well known payment services, carrying adverts from global big name brands and promoting themselves through social media channels, so look for a website name you know and trust.
·         Update your anti-virus – keep your anti-virus and anti-spyware/adware software up-to-date but be aware that this will not protect you from every threat.
·         Don’t hand over credit card details unless you know the site – Sites may provide a secure (https) connection when asking for your credit card details but can still be a scam site. Only hand them over if you’re certain the site is trustworthy.

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