Wednesday 22 November 2023
Blue lights on top of a Garda police car in Ireland.

New cybercrime research released today has revealed some alarming statistics on the views and opinions people across Ireland have towards illegal streaming.

The research, which was conducted on behalf of the BeStreamWise campaign – a new initiative designed to highlight the dangers of illegal streaming – shows that 43% of the Irish population are not knowledgeable about the dangers.* That’s despite almost one in three (31%) saying that they, or someone they know, have been a victim of fraud, scams, or identity theft as a result of illegal streaming.**

45% of Irish people regard illegal streaming as unsafe, and perceive the risks involved to be the same as the risk of checking banking apps on public Wi-Fi or sending bank details online.

However, illegal streaming services are increasingly operated by sophisticated criminal networks, often involved in other types of crime. Upon accessing and registering for these illegal streaming services, users could unknowingly open themselves to fraud, scams, and identity theft. Giving away personal data and visiting unfamiliar links are two tactics which allow criminals and hackers to attack and gain control of devices and networks.

Speaking on the dangers of illegal streaming, Jenny Radcliffe, Social Engineer and People Hacker, said: “The perception that illegal streaming is a victimless crime is completely inaccurate. The sites that host these services are loaded with malicious links, back doors and tricks to access people’s digital and financial information, giving professional criminals an open invitation to steal from anyone who engages in these activities.

Whether it's multiple charges to credit cards, installing malware on devices, accessing bank accounts, or stealing personal information such as emails, messages, contacts, photographs, documents and browsing history, engaging in illegal streaming makes you a prime target for professional fraudsters. And what is worse, because these activities are illegal, victims may have little or no recourse for recovering their losses and may even face criminal charges themselves.”

Providing tips on how to stay safe when streaming content, BeStreamWise.com and Social Engineer and People Hacker Jenny Radcliffe recommends: 

1.     Beware of online pop-up ads and ads for streaming services online. Verify their legitimacy independently by researching the brand. A simple way to do this is by searching the provider's name alongside "SCAM" to uncover information. If it is a scam, you may well find feedback about this online.

2.     Never share personal or financial details online or elsewhere unless you are certain you are dealing with a legitimate brand. Be suspicious of adverts that use urgency or other pressure tactics to get you to buy or subscribe. Don't act in the heat of the moment. It is always best to verify their official website or with their customer service before acting.

3.     Use unique strong passwords with numbers and special characters for all your accounts. Never reuse your password for more than one site and use a password manager if possible. Enabling MFA (multi-factor authentication) allows for another layer of security whenever someone tries to log in to your accounts.

4.     Check your bank statements regularly. Notify your bank if you see anything suspicious or unexpected on your account.

5.     Remember that scams come in all shapes and sizes. You can be contacted via phone, text, email or through social media DMs. Scammers will ask the victim to give something whether that’s money, information or even to click on links or open attachments. You should be suspicious and double-check before sending money or information, especially if you feel emotional or time pressure to do so.

Formed in partnership with key bodies across the sports, film, and TV industry – including FACT, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), Crimestoppers, British Association for Screen Entertainment (BASE), Sky, Premier League, and ITV – BeStreamWise seeks to help viewers consider the personal risks of streaming illegally and identify safer options to enjoy their favourite content. BeStreamWise.com allows audiences to learn the facts, read the latest news and most importantly, find legal routes to safely stream their favourite content.