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Here's why you should stay away from illegal football streams

It might be free, but those illegal streams could ruin your computer

Here's why you should stay away from illegal football streams

You know the score: your team is playing the three o'clock kickoff, and due to unforeseen circumstances, you can't make it to the ground.

While the UK's pubs aren't allowed to screen ("legal complexities"), nations around the globe have got live footage of your beloved team. Like thousands of other fans, you pump the details of the game into Google and click around for the first free stream in something-close-to-watchable quality.

However, one of the first studies into the murky world of illegal football streaming has revealed that almost half of these sites will plant malicious software on viewers' computers through forced ads and other downloaded malware.

The study, conducted by the Department of Computer Science of Stony Brook University, looked at 5,000 aggregation pages (websites that provide viewers with a list of possible streams through which to watch their game), assessing them for their use of advertising, illegal content and copyright infringements.

In addition to being deeply subversive in their appearance, the ads which appear on these illegal sites pointed to a malware-hosting website 50 per cent of the time - asking users to download media plugins that actually contain harmful software.

"As a case in point, a user of a free live streaming service webpage typically encounters a number of malicious overlay ads that are stuffed on the video player," writes the report. "These ads are usually loaded with a number of deceptive techniques. One such technique is to emboss the video player with fake close buttons. This technique can deceive a user to naively click on the fake button, potentially exposing her to malware-laden websites."

Another unusual aspect of the findings were the relatively small number of countries that actually hosted the illegal streams, with "more than 60 per cent of analyzed streams originate from the media servers provided by only five companies located in Belize, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Canada." Of those five nations, servers located in Belize were found to host nearly 25 per cent of all illegal streaming traffic.

With such a small number of channel providers responsible for the majority of live streams, the report suggests that targeting the known streamers is the best way to clamp down on illegal streams that can spread malware.

If you insist on streaming games illegally, be aware that you really shouldn't download software at the request of streaming sites. Play it safe, and just listen to the radio report instead.

[Via: BBC]