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A DIGITAL CITIZENS ALLIANCE CONSUMER ALERT: Piracy in the Pandemic

DCA Staff, Monday, June 22, 2020

It’s likely that someone in your home, your apartment building, or on your street is using a device that accesses stolen movies and television shows. A new Digital Citizens Alliance survey of 1,512 U.S. consumers found that 13% use “piracy devices.” Also, piracy devices are three times as likely to bring malware – software such as viruses, ransomware, and spyware that’s designed to damage or control another user’s computer, server, client, or computer network - into the home.

And that is a problem at a time when we’re relying on devices to help us at home. During the coronavirus pandemic, 53 percent of Americans told the Pew Research Center than the internet has been essential, almost half of American businesses implemented work from home policies. almost 60 percent of Americans are using personal devices to do their work while at home. 

We have seen online behaviors change almost overnight as more than 40 percent of shoppers bought groceries online during the pandemic for the first time. Additionally, DCA found that nearly 70 percent are watching more TV than usual. 

Put it all together, more people are online at home with more devices connecting and doing more things than ever before. Unfortunately, cyber threat actors are also more active than ever. 

DCA investigators are not the only ones finding criminal looking for backdoors into your home. Cybersecurity researchers report ransomware attacks are up 148% and malicious emails have grown by 600% since the coronavirus spread started. In fact, complaints to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center were as much as four times higher than normal on some days during the pandemic. 

In short, this is a period when all of us need to find ways to be less vulnerable. Eliminating reliance on piracy sites and apps is one of the easiest ways to improve online security. There are several other easy steps you can take to make you and your family more secure:

 

  • Use apps that are licensed to sell or rent movies. If the app isn’t on Apple’s App Store or Google Play, that should be a red flag. However, even the app stores aren’t perfect. 
  • Avoid knockoffs and copycats. There’s a big difference between Netflix and “Free Netflix”… and on that note: 
  • Free comes with a high cost. The classic adage applies here: “If you are not paying for the product, you are the product.” While you may get a movie, but you give up personal identifiable information and perhaps even control of your device. The cost outweighs the rewards. 

Piracy in the Pandemic

If you need additional information, please look through some of the research and resources on our website, digitalcitizensalliance.org.

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