Illegal sports streams riddled with threats that even the smartest users might miss

Erling Braut Haaland
(Image credit: Getty Images / Matt McNulty)

Illegal sports streaming sites are riddled with malware, some of which is capable of draining victims' bank accounts, a new report from Opentext Security Solutions reveals.

Opentext recently analyzed 50 “popular” illegal streaming sites and discovered that “every single one” contained malicious content. Furthermore, four in ten did not have the necessary security certificates. To top it all off, users are also “bombarded” with explicit and extreme pop-up ads. 

“With a huge weekend of TV approaching, including Anthony Joshua’s latest fight, the launch of House of the Dragon, and Man Utd vs Liverpool in the Premier League, viewers could be tempted to stream illegally,” the report states. ”However, they could also be exposing themselves to a whole range of dangerous material, designed to part them from their personal information and ultimately their cash.”

Banking trojans galore

There are different kinds of threats on these sites, the researchers claim, but banking trojans designed to steal people’s money are arguably the most damaging. The distribution method is also quite simple: when people press the unmute button on the video stream, they download the virus

“Users didn’t even have to enter any information – one click was enough to do the damage,” the researchers warned. 

In earlier years, bitcoin-related scams were most common, but this year there’s been a “notable absence”. Instead, fraudsters are going for other types of cryptocurrencies.

Finally, these sites expose people to explicit content. The researchers described the content as “extreme” and “a real risk to families who might share devices with children.”

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In other words, streaming sports events on illegal sites is not worth the money saved, especially knowing that many of these sites don’t actually offer any real streaming service, but rather just try to trick people into visiting.

“These illegal streaming sites are often run by criminal enterprises to gain users’ personal data and sell them on,” added Kelvin Murray, Senior Threat Researcher at Opentext Security Solutions.

“There is no safe way to use them without putting yourself at risk. As the people who run these sites become savvier, the scams that they employ to trick users into giving up their data will be harder to spot. Therefore, we recommend avoiding these types of websites and not putting yourself in danger.”

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.