The use of video streaming services has increased significantly over the past few years. Streaming has been made easier through new technology like smart TVs, streaming boxes, and streaming sticks. These devices let you stream through services such as Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, Amazon Prime, and countless others. Unfortunately, there are some apps that give users access to illegal content. Hackers have targeted these apps and are using them to spread malware.
Illegal content is nothing new. In the past, websites offering free TV shows and movies could infect your computer with malware. The only thing that is changing is the channel they are using for the attack. Rather than a website infecting your computer, a downloaded app will infect your streaming device.
The problem then expands. For streaming devices to work, they must be connected to your wireless network. If malicious software gets to the wireless network, it will try to infect other devices you have connected to the network such as a laptop or cell phone which can give access to a slew of confidential information. The malware could allow hackers to steal your credit card information, steal log in credentials for countless websites, or use your computer to commit crimes.
Malware can also cause your computer to run slowly or stop working altogether in addition to opening unwanted popups and/or websites.
The only way to truly avoid a malware attack it to avoid watching illegal content altogether. Do not watch it on your computer or through an illegal app. If you are not sure if an app is legitimate, do your research before downloading. It will you save you a lot of annoyance and frustration in the future.
Please see the federal trade commission’s consumer alert on this matter as well as others at Malware from illegal video streaming apps.
KC Kolb, CPA