Illegal streaming of sporting events: a worrisome proliferation

Jan 15, 2018
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Illegal website broadcasting a sporting event
In the United Kingdom took place a boxing fight between McGregor and Mayweather. This marked the pinnacle of illegal streaming of a sporting event, sometimes taking the looks of a legal website. Each illegal streaming opens the door to cyber-crime. If the British laws can fight this threat, it’s high time France did the same. The French Government seems keen but needs to act, quickly.
 
239 illegal streams for nearly 3 million viewers un the UK alone. The McGregor-Mayweather fight hit a record high in illegal streaming.
 

Illegal websites… mocking legal ones

 
The security platform Irdeto analyzed this media event coverage by popular – but illegal – means: 165 streams were available on social networks, mainly Facebook, Twitch and Periscope.
 
More surprising was the fact that many of the illegal websites were so professionnal looking that they seemed legal.
No less than 42 ads were spotted, on the day of the fight, leading to websites, which were all illegal, offering coverage of the fight. Some of these ads were seen on legal and popular platforms such as Amazon, eBay or Alibaba.
 
The fact is that the incriminated commercials as well as the websites looked really professionnal: “the availability of the content is the key, and this may have lured the consumer who chose, by mistake, an illegal service instead of a legal one” explained Irdeto.
 

France was also impacted

 
Boxing is not be as popular in France as it is accross the Channel so a similar study there would not have displayed the same results: but hackers use the same masking techniques on websites covering soccer, rugby or basketball… and effects are similar worldwide.
 
The worst part is that web users, by mistake, are exposed to the risks of these illegal websites. The least being to generate ads revenues for mafia linked crooks. But surfing an illegal sports-streaming website opens the door to viral infection.
 

Malwares, ransomware, phishing, minors exposed to pornography

 
A study dating back to June 2017 stated that 91% of consumers of illegal streaming claim they’ve been exposed to “nuisance”. These included malware or ransomware infection. Almost all consumers admit to have been the victim of phishing attempts – passwords, ID. These can lead to the theft of banking details or identify!
 
Commercials on these illegal streaming websites often point out to pornographic sites – thus involuntarily exposing children to pornography. This is one of the plagues the government must take on to fight the pornographic consumption by minors.
 

The British solution to fight illegal sports streaming

 
Methods exist to counter illegal streaming, especially regarding sporting events. In the UK, there is a jurisprudence on soccer events: the legal owner of the Premier League rights can make internet providers immediately block all websites broadcasting a match illegally.
 
This legislation is efficient and timely. Website blocking is almost immediate after the alert – it only lasts for the duration of the match then leads to a full inquiry. The method is so efficient the European Football Federation (EUFA) has just broaden it to European championships (Champions League and Europa League).
 

When will there be measures this efficient in France?

 
In France, legislation forbids such measures, despite them being very efficient. But the laws should evolve with the next version of the HADOPI rules and open the door to effective response.
 
The State Secretary for Digital Matters, Mounir Mahjoubi, seems determined to fight illegal streaming. Last november, he said: “Within illegal streaming, we have a creation of operators and international mafia organizations that mix copyright abuse, pornography and other methods to finance their activities”.
 
Maybe this should help France become as efficient as their British neighbours? It’s what we shall hope for.