Streaming video content from non-mainstream providers can unwittingly make you a victim of content piracy. At first you may not care if you get a bargain pricing offer. But you have a chance to become a victim of scammers and hackers, lose personal data and have your financial assets stolen. This is a huge financial loss for consumers and legitimate creative content providers.
Paying a low-balled sign-up fee is often the first sign that you’re dealing with an illegitimate media operation. What most people don’t realize is that bad actors can just as easily steal legitimate creative content to make piles of money. The piracy occurs by using content operators’ mobile apps or content delivery systems against them.
This process turns participating consumers into a weapon that can dramatically hurt businesses’ profits and drive away less legit customers, says CEO of Verimetrics, a longtime security expert for the media and entertainment industry. Asaf warns Ashkenazi.
This digital piracy operation is becoming widespread in the video content space. Its new weapon is harmful to legitimate retailers and advertisers and a growing threat to Hollywood and other sectors like sports and entertainment.
“It is very difficult to measure the extent of piracy today. But it’s much broader than people think,” Ashkenazi told TechNewsWorld.
video piracy mitigation
Verimatrix is a cyber security company based in California, with offices in Europe, that tracks application streams and website traffic. Its dual mission is to protect enterprise applications in mobile phones and provide anti-piracy services to businesses.
The insights Ashkenazi shared about this new approach to video piracy come from unexpected discoveries of digital traffic patterns when monitoring customers’ networks.
His company monitors what hackers do online with developed tools that can identify patterns that indicate an attack is imminent, so it can be minimized or thwarted.
Specialized cyber security protects automotive firms, banks and enterprises from data loss through their apps. Ashkenazi said the customer base is about 300 customers worldwide.
The cyber firm’s CEO articulated a philosophy that’s a bit unique to Digital Spy. He openly professes the belief that you can never completely prevent digital content from leaking.
Instead, Verimatrix developed proprietary technology services that disrupted the pirates’ business model. The goal is to eliminate a rogue service fast. When possible, they work to remove intrusions from video distribution pipelines.
“If we can make it more difficult for pirates to grab customer data and force them to spend more money to keep operating, they won’t make enough money. Then they don’t go after our customers,” he explained.
For example, let’s say cyber security can disconnect illegal distribution network connections after 10 minutes. In that case, illegitimate Pirate users won’t be able to watch the sporting event they paid for, Ashkenazi explained.
“Also, all the advertising revenue and continued subscription payments no longer go to the pirate streaming service. This would put them out of business,” he continued.
From file sharing to outright piracy
Ashkenazi considers the growth of digital piracy to be an interesting development. Criminals migrated from file-sharing exploits to advanced new technologies, and they learned to adjust to the technologies on their way to becoming modern-day content pirates.
“They’re no different than any other thieves. It’s really fascinating how digital criminals have evolved with technology,” he offered.
In the past, it was more organized enterprises that were doing it. A lot of the activity focused on file sharing. Much of it focused on The Pirate Bay, which launched in 2003, but mostly involved people sharing content with their peers.
Ashkenazi submitted that when people used file-sharing networks, they knew they were doing something illegal. Cheated customers of pirated video streaming networks today are not even aware that they are dealing with an illegal operation.
“When we moved into streaming, the pirates went away and became a more organized group that provided services. And what we see is that these services are looking more and more like legitimate services that are offered by legitimate providers. provide a better user experience than what is being provided,” he said.
The robbers are collecting incoming material from various suppliers. They offer a one-stop video shop with a great experience. He said that it is becoming a very lucrative business.
monetize hacked video distribution
It begs the question: How do they make money? They make money in three ways, often maximizing two or all three approaches in a single video streaming event.
The first method is very straightforward. Rogue business looks like a well-fixed legitimate service. The scams involve offering subscription prices that are much lower than what legitimate content streaming services charge. Because thieves don’t have to pay the source for the material, it’s all a profit for them.
Today video pirates access content distribution with very sophisticated high-tech equipment. According to Ashkenazi, initially, they were stealing content and re-streaming it.
Now they have ways to add and inject their content through legitimate suppliers and stream it for free. The pirating operation allows their unsuspecting customers to connect to the same delivery system that honest services use.
Creative content providers use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) of interconnected servers to speed up webpage loading for data-heavy applications. The legitimate content distributor pays the full cost of preparing the content for streaming and cloud services. Content pirates don’t need to do anything to re-route the video feed to their own streaming outlet.
“We found by working with our clients that legal service providers are paying approximately 20% of their costs to stream content to pirates. It is difficult to know the exact amount,” Ashkenazi said.
“Service providers cannot determine a legitimate paying user from a customer connecting to a hijacked video stream. Users are often not even aware they are using a pirated service,” he said.
two more plans
The second monetization method comes from customers who have to install apps that connect to the CDN. They inadvertently grant app permissions that enable piracy operators to grab your personal data.
Pirates sell this data to third parties. Criminals then use the stolen user information to initiate ID theft and make fraudulent credit card purchases and bank account withdrawals.
A third way that video content pirates make money is by injecting their own advertisements and other advertisements that are sold to legitimate retailers and businesses that do not know the deceptive company’s background.
hide and run tactic
The CEO of the cyber firm said that much of the growth in pirated video activity involves sports streaming. Some fake providers entice users for a short term or special event series and then disappear.
In the process, operators create maximum cash flow. They may suddenly stop and set up again with new URLs. Typically, their scams go undetected by victimized users, and businesses have little recourse through legal scrutiny.
“We have seen a large increase in two types of pirated services. These covert operations can be easily hidden because they do not have the infrastructure that can be identified and tracked by law enforcement,” Ashkenazi explained.
From the users point of view, the websites look legitimate. The money collection process takes place through channels that appear legitimate and are difficult to trace back.