Philippines: New study shows piracy sites are a greater threat than ever to consumers

Sponsor ad - 728w x 90h (at 72 dpi)

The September 2023 report “Consumer Risks from Piracy in the Philippines,” from the researcher Cyberstronomy, develops a cyber risk assessment for the Philippines in from using illicit streaming and torrent sites.  The researchers used algorithms to analyze and interpret large amounts of data from piracy sites, social media platforms, online communities, and other online spaces “to discern patterns and insights about the ways that people interact with technology, each other, and the world around them.”

Cyberstomy’s goal was to quantify the increase in risk attributable to visiting and using piracy sites, compared to a set of benign, mainstream control sites. The model is based on industry best-practices1, and previous research identifying the key indicators of risk on piracy sites.

Sponsor ad

Factors contributing to the assessment included threats that lead to cyberattacks, defensive weaknesses or gaps, the consequences of cyberattacks, likelihood of cyberattack, strategies and controls that could mitigate the risks, and resilience to respond to and recover from attacks.

The new report builds on their 2021 report “Time to Compromise”, which looked at malware risks in Asia-Pacific and found that a typical user visiting a pirate site could be infected by ransomware, several trojan horses, and other Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) within 42 seconds on a Windows machine and within 1 minute and 18 seconds on an Android device. The full 2023 report is available to AVIA members.

The results of that 2022 report supported the hypothesis that there is a nexus between piracy and malware infections, where site operators generate significant revenue from allowing malicious ads to be placed on their sites.  The title ‘Time to Compromise’ refers to the length of time it takes for a consumer to experience the effects of an attack, not a plea for compromise with the piracy industry.

Huge risk

The report found that Filipino consumers visiting pirate streaming sites are 21.66 times more likely to be infected with malware, compared to mainstream sites. In addition to the relative risk calculations, researchers verified that 10% of visits to pirate streaming sites resulted in malware infection.

Torrent sites are even worse: Filipino consumers are 16.66 times more likely than mainstream sites to be infected with malware (with a verifiable infection rate of 18%). Those consumers impacted can be infected with some of the most serious malware types, such as trojan horses that could be used for lateral movement and remote access by sophisticated attackers.

What happens next

Malware can in turn gain access to consumer PCs and mobile devices, and all of the data held in storage, but also access to banking login details and other sensitive logins. Some malware infetions are also relatively benign for consumers, and during any particular sampling period the malware detection rate and relative risk may fluctuate due to random variation.

Further reading

New study shows threat to Philippine consumers from piracy sites remains greater than ever.  Press release. September 15, 2023. Asia Video Industry Association (AVIA)

Consumer Risks from Piracy Sites in the Philippines. Research report. August 2023. by Paul Watters. Cyberstomy Pty Ltd.

Time to Compromise. How Cyber Criminals use ads to compromise devices through piracy Web sites and apps.  Research report. August 2022. Asia Video Industry Association (AVIA)

Why it matters

“Evidence continues to mount that far from being a victimless crime, piracy can victimize consumers.” said AVIA General Manager Matt Cheetham, who also noted that it is more timely than ever that the site blocking legislation recently introduced into the Philippines Senate may pass quickly.

“We look forward to the successful passage of site blocking legislation in the Senate that will allow the Philippines to both protect its consumers from online harm posed by pirate sites and grow its economy,” said Mr. Cheetham.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
From our Sponsors