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Cyber threat: Free livestreaming sites easy prey for malware attackers

A study found that about 5% of video overlay ads on free livestreaming websites are malicious and videos are streamed without the content owner's consent.

PTI|
Updated: Jun 17, 2016, 11.41 AM IST
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A study found that about 5% of video overlay ads on free livestreaming websites are malicious and videos are streamed without the content owner's consent.
A study found that about 5% of video overlay ads on free livestreaming websites are malicious and videos are streamed without the content owner's consent.
WASHINGTON: Using free livestreaming websites to watch programs online may expose you to various security risks such as malware infections, personal data theft and scams, a new study has warned.

The study from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium and Stony Brook University in the US also found that about 50 per cent of the video overlay ads on free livestreaming websites are malicious. The videos are streamed without the content owner's consent.

“Our study is the first to quantify the security risk of using these services. We also exposed the infrastructure of the FLIS ecosystem," said M Zubair Rafique from KU LeuvenRafique.

The researchers built a semi-automated tool that helped them identify 23,000 free livestreaming websites, corresponding with over 5,600 domain names. They then performed more than 8,50,000 visits to the domains and analysed more than 1 terabyte of traffic.

“The FLIS ecosystem is not averse to using deceptive techniques to make money from the millions of users. One example is the use of malicious overlay ads, which cover the video player with fake 'close' buttons. When users click these buttons, they risk being exposed to malware," Nikiforakis said.

“Most of these pages are made to look like the actual livestreaming websites.That is how they try to get users to install malware," he said. “Google Chrome and Safari are more vulnerable to this approach than other browsers."

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