Illegal movie downloads and counterfeit entertainment apps are costing the US movie and television industry billions of dollars every year.
Today, there are more than 150 billion views of illicit multimedia being consumed across the US every single year. It turns out that a majority of these views have been unaccounted for as a significantly high number of offenders continue to operate under the radar of copyright enforcement authorities.
Illegal file sharing is normally facilitated via torrent websites, which denote online platforms where individuals upload large files.
The torrent websites are accessible to people looking out to download uploaded information that would include pirated movie content, software programs, and video games.
Importantly, the dark web, which is known for hosting illicit goods and services for sale, has become a significantly relevant player in the illegal movies and fake apps business. Here, millions of illicit files are uploaded and accessed by darknet downloaders.
While speaking to Amarillo News, Dr. Brandon Bang, a criminal justice expert, said that the current circumstance surrounding pirated entertainment material has led to the loss of employment opportunities and revenue streams across the economic spectrum.
He went on to highlight the role of torrent websites in enabling the illegal movie download business that has affected the entire industry. The criminal justice pundit went on to cite the case involving shutdown of the torrent website MegaUpload – an event that was big enough to cause noticeable positive changes in the TV industry, which gained a more than 5 percent increase in revenue due to the anti-piracy operation.
Nonetheless, Dr. Bang brought attention to the fact that the dark web happens to be a minimal part of the entire value chain. He remarked that the clearnet still possesses enough illicit material that can be downloaded by interested online users.
Otherwise, the dark web happens to be more attractive of an avenue for people seeking to download movies illegally as they are able to hide their IP addresses and operate without law enforcement interference.
Movies and Counterfeit Entertainment Apps on the Dark Web
A 2019 investigative report by Digital Citizens found a strong correlation between darknet-hosted movies with identity theft, reflecting on the use of movie piracy streaming devices by cybercriminals to spread malware.
The dark web’s streaming piracy environment is constructed on profit-making that’s achieved through the theft, trade and weaponization of pirated movies, TV shows, musical works, sporting events and games.
Considering the fact that most people are oblivious to the existence of this robust ecosystem, many users fall into the trap of downloading material that they think is free or cheap only to swallow the malware bait.
In a typical case, a target user unknowingly plugs in a piracy device into their system – usually a piracy app such as Mobdro, FreeNetflix, Exodus or Krypto – that will circumvent any existing firewall as the first line of network defense against malicious attacks.
As soon as the piracy device is launched, the app will run an automatic update without the user’s knowledge, and enable the threat actor’s access to the user’s devices and networks that occur beyond them.
According to the findings made by the Digital Citizens investigators, cybercriminals use the above method to access user credentials with the intention of monetizing the entire process.
First, a threat actor may choose to sell the legitimate user’s personal information. Fake movie streaming applications such as FreeNetflix are used to enable the illicit access to legitimate subscription packages.
An individual looking to consume unlicensed content will access a legitimate user’s pirated subscription in this manner – they will be required to pay $10 for the FreeNetflix app with a full year of updates.