Man in the Net

Do users read­ily stream and down­load pi­rated con­tent with­out think­ing twice be­cause they are trapped in a glut of free and il­le­gal en­ter­tain­ment?

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Front Page -

CA­BLE & Satel­lite Broad­cast­ing As­so­ci­a­tion of Asia (Cas­baa) warns con­sumers on the risk of mal­ware that could at­tack their com­put­ers and home net­works when sub­scrib­ing to il­le­gal stream­ing and down­load­ing ser­vices.

“This could re­sult in the theft of per­sonal data, credit card fraud or even be­ing held to ran­som,” Cas­baa Chief Pol­icy Of­fi­cer John Medeiros said in a state­ment.

“Le­git­i­mate, li­censed ser­vices are far more re­li­able and se­cure way to ob­tain pro­gram­ming.”

A joint study con­ducted by the KU Leu­ven Univer­sity in Bel­gium and the Stony Brook Univer­sity in the United States found that around half of the ads hosted on il­le­gal sports stream­ing sites are ma­li­cious.

The re­search, posted on the KU Leu­ven’s of­fi­cial web­site, claims that browsers like Google Chrome and Sa­fari were more tar­geted than the rest. In some cases, the sites even de­tected ad-block­ing soft­ware and tried to by­pass it.

Last month, se­cu­rity re­search firm Check Point said that at­tack­ers had cre­ated ma­li­cious files dis­guised as sub­ti­tles – it al­lowed at­tack­ers to take over the vic­tim’s de­vice within sec­onds af­ter a video was played with the in­fected sub­ti­tle file.

Be­sides il­le­gal stream­ing and down­load­ing, the use of unau­tho­rised set­top box is also re­port­edly ram­pant in Malaysia.

Fed­eral Com­mer­cial Crime In­ves­ti­ga­tion Depart­ment (CCID) deputy di­rec­tor of Cy­ber Crime and Mul­ti­me­dia In­ves­ti­ga­tion Se­nior Asst Comm Mohd Ka­marudin Md Din said it busted a syn­di­cate in April which raked in about RM900,000 per month from the sales and ser­vices of such de­vices.

“From our in­ves­ti­ga­tions, this par­tic­u­lar syn­di­cate was in op­er­a­tion since 2015. This syn­di­cate had about 30,000 cus­tomers,” he said when con­tacted by The Star.

Cas­baa also posted on its of­fi­cial web­site that the take­down of net­works op­er­at­ing il­licit stream­ing TV ser­vices in Thai­land re­sulted in an es­ti­mated 50,000 con­sumers in Sin­ga­pore, Hong Kong, Viet­nam and In­done­sia los­ing their ser­vices as well.

“The crim­i­nal syn­di­cates selling il­le­gal stream­ing de­vices have de­frauded many con­sumers into be­liev­ing their ser­vices were le­git­i­mate,” said Medeiros.

“They are not. And any­one buy­ing an il­licit IPTV box takes the risk of los­ing their money with­out warn­ing when the il­le­gal net­work is taken down.”

Cas­baa CEO Christo­pher Slaugh­ter said that con­sumers need to un­der­stand that if the TV pro­gram­ming of­fered on a box sounds too good to be true, it’s prob­a­bly not le­git­i­mate.

“Money in­vested in an il­le­gal stream­ing de­vice is at risk of loss at any time,” he said.

How­ever, ven­dors are boldly ad­ver­tis­ing their prod­ucts and ser­vices on sev­eral on­line shop­ping sites.

A ven­dor selling il­le­gal satel­lite TV boxes prom­ises that the de­vice priced at RM230 would give com­plete ac­cess to all avail­able chan­nels here.

“It is safe to use this de­vice as it can­not be traced back to you. The only way the au­thor­i­ties can find out is if you have a jeal­ous neigh­bour who re­ports you,” said an­other dealer who openly sells the de­vices in Dig­i­tal Mall in Petaling Jaya.

His booth proudly states “Turn Your Reg­u­lar TV Into Smart TV Now” and claims to of­fer over 1,000 “live” chan­nels from all over the world.

Ven­dors are also selling An­droid TV boxes that al­low users to il­le­gally stream thou­sands of movies and TV se­ries.

Users can pur­chase an An­droid box from be­tween RM159 to RM799, and for an ad­di­tional RM360 per year, they could also get IPTV con­tent, as well as other live broad­casts.

A dealer at Low Yat Plaza in Kuala Lumpur in­sisted that his prod­ucts are le­gal and that the ser­vices of­fered are not against the law which is why con­sumers are tricked into pur­chas­ing the de­vices, not know­ing that the con­tent that they are re­ceiv­ing is unau­tho­rised and pi­rated.

“Why would the po­lice ar­rest you? You’re just stream­ing the shows from the In­ter­net. It’s just like us­ing your phone to watch movies on the In­ter­net. You’re not do­ing any­thing wrong, right?” he asked.

Bukit Aman has urged the pub­lic to re­frain from sub­scrib­ing to di­rect user satel­lite TV pro­gram­ming.

Ka­marudin said that th­ese syn­di­cates would usu­ally lure cus­tomers via so­cial me­dia with lu­cra­tive of­fers.

“Peo­ple need to know that they can face se­ri­ous ac­tion if they are caught sub­scrib­ing to th­ese il­le­gal pack­ages. They could face ac­tion un­der Sec­tion 41 of The Copy­right Act 1987.

“They can also face ac­tion un­der Sec­tion 232(b) of the CMA 98 which car­ries a jail term and max­i­mum RM300,000 fine,” he said.

Peo­ple need to know that they can face se­ri­ous ac­tion if they are caught sub­scrib­ing to th­ese il­le­gal pack­ages. Mohd Ka­marudin Md Din

Fed­eral Com­mer­cial Crime In­ves­ti­ga­tion Depart­ment (CCID) deputy di­rec­tor of Cy­ber Crime & Mul­ti­me­dia In­ves­ti­ga­tion Se­nior Asst Comm

PIRACY is one of the big­gest chal­lenges to con­tent ser­vice providers and one that has the po­ten­tial to kill the in­dus­try if left unchecked.

Lam Swee Kim, dim­sum chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer, said curb­ing piracy is one of the big­gest chal­lenges the OTT (over-the-top) con­tent providers face, es­pe­cially since it deals with pri­mar­ily Asian con­tent, which is eas­ily avail­able on il­le­gal sites.

“Piracy can be quite dam­ag­ing to the in­dus­try as it not only eats into our rev­enue po­ten­tial, it also con­di­tions con­sumers into think­ing that all con­tent is free as long as it is on­line. This sort of think­ing, if not man­aged prop­erly, could kill the in­dus­try,” she said.

Lam said dim­sum works to­gether with the other lo­cal play­ers, in­clud­ing Astro, TM, Me­dia Prima, iflix and the Mo­tion Pic­ture As­so­ci­a­tion, as well as the Malaysian Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Mul­ti­me­dia Com­mis­sion (MCMC) and the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Mul­ti­me­dia Con­tent Fo­rum of Malaysia (CMCF) to tackle the is­sue. Rep­re­sented by all rel­e­vant par­ties of the com­mu­ni­ca­tions and mul­ti­me­dia in­dus­try, CMCF is a body that pro­motes self-reg­u­la­tion within the broad­cast­ing in­dus­try.

CMCF ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Mohd Mustaffa Fazil Mohd Ab­dan said that through the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s Con­tent Code, they hope to pro­mote pos­i­tive con­tent and self-reg­u­la­tion within the in­dus­try, and that in­cludes en­sur­ing that their con­tent is trans­mit­ted through the proper chan­nels.

“Some­times pi­rated con­tent do not nec­es­sar­ily have safe­guards in place, or has not been prop­erly as­sessed for harm­ful or neg­a­tive el­e­ments,” he said. “The in­dus­try needs to be mind­ful of where its con­tent is go­ing, and try not to have their con­tent on pi­rated chan­nels.”

Astro chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Henry Tan added that piracy is the big­gest scourge to the in­dus­try, and that most peo­ple fail to ap­pre­ci­ate its long term reper­cus­sions.

“Piracy is theft. Peo­ple must un­der­stand that in the long term, it will de­stroy the value chain and liveli­hood of many peo­ple, in­clud­ing the celebri­ties they fol­low.

— 123rf.com

When you choose to stream shows il­le­gally, you are chan­nel­ing the money to pi­rates in­stead of the right­ful own­ers.

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