Keep Your Guard Up: Sports Streaming Sites Yield Hidden Dangers

By on Jun 17, 2016

Just as every dog has its day, so too do sports. The NBA finals, the Playoffs, the Stanley Cup — each are the pinnacle competition for their respective sport. So much so, that they often fill bars, homes and community centers around the country in the hopes that a favored team will win. Sometimes preparing for a big sports day means picking up chips and salsa. Other times, however, it means finding a way to watch the game online through various “free” sports streaming services.

Here’s an uncomfortable truth for this day and age: if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product. That especially goes for websites that claim to stream “The Big Game” free of charge. In fact, researchers from a Belgian University — who scanned more than 23,000 streaming websites and performed more than 850,000 visits — have found that as much as 50 percent of video overlays on these streaming sites are malicious.

You know what this means if you’ve used such a service before: half of the time, those pop up ads covering the video you want to watch are simply malware attacks disguised as fake “close ad” buttons. And if you’ve ever been told you need to download “special software” in order to make the stream work then, well, that special software is also likely malware.

So what can you do to avoid malware on free streaming websites, sports-centered or not? Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t use free streaming websites. Let’s not kid ourselves: the content on these websites are likely stolen, and hosted in a suspicious manner. While there is room for debate over the cost of subscriptions, there isn’t when the goods you’re using are stolen and potentially malicious. If you’re going to watch “The Big Game” online, then purchase a subscription from a legitimate streaming service.
  • Do your research. If you are going to stream a sports game, then do your research first. Each sport has a major organization (NBA, NFL, NBL, etc.). Visit these organization’s websites to learn about where they stream their games, and their streaming policies. Finally, if you do find a stream for the game you’re looking for, look for the organization’s mark to make sure it’s legitimate.
  • Use comprehensive security. Regardless of what you do, you need to have a comprehensive security solution, like McAfee® LiveSafe™, installed on your devices. This security software is designed to keep your devices safe and free of malware, no matter where you are. Make like players on the field, and stay on the defense.

And, of course, stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats by following me and @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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About the Author

Gary Davis

Gary Davis is Chief Consumer Security Evangelist. Through a consumer lens, he partners with internal teams to drive strategic alignment of products with the needs of the security space. Gary also provides security education to businesses and consumers by distilling complex security topics into actionable advice. He is a sought-after speaker on trends in digital ...

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