Piracy Devices Increase Risk of Cyber Attacks, Survey Finds

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WASHINGTON—There’s a different kind of side effect that has come about as people are quarantined at home during the COVID-19 pandemic—the increase, and potential impact, of malware issues via cyber attacks, particularly through illegal piracy devices.

This is according to a survey conducted by the Digital Citizens Alliance, which found that one in four of Americans who use piracy devices—like a Kodi Box or a jail-broken Amazon Firestick—in their home say they had a malware problem in the last three months; 49% have had a malware problem in the last year.

DCA says that these findings present a larger problem than normal because of how much people are relying on their home devices and internet for their daily lives during quarantine. During the pandemic, 53% of Americans have said the internet is essential to their lives, according to a Pew Research study; also, 60% are using personal devices to do their work at home, per Cyber Readiness Institute. Beyond work, DCA found that 70% of people are watching more TV than usual during this period.

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It’s not just the greater use of piracy devices, cyber attacks have increased as well. DCA cites VMware Carbon Black that ransomware attacks are up 148%, and the United Nations has reported malicious emails have risen by 600% since the pandemic started.

“Now more than ever, all of us need to find ways to be less vulnerable,” said Tom Galvin, executive director of the Digital Citizens Alliance. “Reliance on piracy sites and apps is one of the easiest changes one can make to improve online security dramatically.”

Steps that individuals can take to protect themselves from this rise in cyber attacks, according to DCA, are: 

  • Use apps that are licensed to sell or rent movies and TV shows; 
  • Avoid knockoffs and copycats; and
  • Be aware that services that offer free content but require personal information or control of a device are risky

For more information, visit www.digitalcitizensalliance.org