Websites and apps that feature pirated movies and TV shows are now reported to make about $1.3 billion (roughly KES 142 billion) from advertising each year. This includes ads from major companies like Amazon, as indicated by a new study.
For many years now, piracy operations have not only been known as an illegal source of entertainment material but also of malware. This is mostly made possible through the various ads placed on the sites that contain links that hackers use to gain access to devices. From the various reports we have covered so far, it has been quite clear that many ransomware attacks have been conducted through such links.
According to the report from online safety nonprofit Digital Citizens Alliance, piracy has proven to be a really tough problem for both Hollywood studios and companies that distribute digital advertisements. The dire situation was made even worse in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that forced everyone to search for entertainment content. However, this made life even better for hackers who have had greater chances of successfully targeting victims.
“Piracy causes direct harm to creators and others who lose income when their content is stolen,” the report reads. “And major brands face reputational risks when their advertising appears on illicit websites.”
According to the study, major brands accounted for about 4% of the advertising on pirate websites and 24% of the ads on pirate apps. This with firms like Google, Amazon and Facebook being the largest represented. These figures were determined after 6000 sites and 900 apps were monitored by anti-piracy firm White Bullet.
The biggest amount of ads came from “sponsored content” which often takes the form of “clickbait” links that look like they will lead to interesting articles or videos. Smaller companies, adult content and fraud and malware made up the rest of the ads.
This comes at a time when piracy has been on the rise as Hollywood struggles to bring back its movies to the theatre. This has seen many production firms opt to release their films on streaming platforms where they can be quickly siphoned. This has seen firms like Disney face legal problems over the online debut of Black Widow.