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Multiple Malware Threats for Visitors to Pirate Websites

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Over 4 000 files containing malware or potentially unwanted programmes were retrieved from more than 1 000 websites suspected of sharing illegally protected content in an EU-wide research project carried out by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

Those 4 000 malicious files originated from approximately 100 individually developed pieces of malware, often marketed as being useful user software, including fake game installers and free programmes to access and stream pirated content.

The files consisted of malware or other programmes that, when downloaded, could access personal data stored on computers and devices. The files extracted by the researchers came from websites and mobile applications suspected of sharing pirated films, music, video games and television programmes, and were designed to lure users into sharing credit card details, social network logins or other personal data.

The findings of the research are published today in the first official EU study on the risks of malware infection from suspected copyright-infringing websites. The study, carried out by the EUIPO in collaboration with the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), collected malware from the websites and mobile applications in two rounds. The resulting 200 GB of malicious files were analysed by Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, using the Europol Malware Analysis System (EMAS).

The Acting Executive Director of the EUIPO, Christian Archambeau, said: "Our previous research has shown that over half of digital natives say they consider the safety of a site to be a priority when accessing content online. Today’s study findings are important for all online users, of whatever age, as they highlight the inherent dangers in copyright-infringing sites. EUIPO’s cooperation and collaboration with our European and international partners will continue as we build on our research in this area."

Today’s study complements previous research from the EUIPO on online business models which infringe intellectual property rights and digital advertising on suspected infringing websites. The research was supported by a malware expert and a technical expert group. 

Link to the Full Report

Link to the Executive Summary

This article has been republished from materials provided by EUIPO. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.