keyboard with pirate key - red flags to avoid pirate websites

Streaming content on the internet can be an enjoyable way to pass the time with friends and family. However, not all websites offer content that is safe and legal. Piracy is a cybercrime and illegal activity. Read on to learn about common red flags that can alert you to pirate websites that may put you at risk.

Content is Free or unexpectedly Cheap?

TV shows, sports programs or movies offered for free or for considerably less than what you would expect to pay could be from unauthorized sources such as pirate websites. Paying nothing or less than you would expect to pay for online content is often an indication of copyright infringement and thus a site you should avoid.

Prominent Warnings & Disclaimers?

Sites and apps that enable access to pirated material often include pop-ups and other a disclaimer that they “do not condone the illegal sharing of copyrighted material.” This is done to provide a warning that you are proceeding at your own risk if you choose to continue. Hackers, scammers, and the like are obtaining the content illegally, which means you could face serious fines and other penalties if caught with pirated materials on your web browser or internet history.

VPN Suggestions

Some websites, especially torrenting sites, may suggest you obtain a Virtual Private Network (VPN) before using them. VPNs are recommended by pirate sources because they help users disguise their device and location identity to avoid detection by law enforcement. This is a red flag signaling that you are dealing with a source that may include pirated content.

Anti-Virus Software Warning

Another red flag may come from your anti-virus software. For example, McAfee security software might warn that they “regularly scan sites for suspicious and malicious activity — and this one just isn’t safe.” The warning may also tell you what risks are ahead, such as phishing, a type of online identity theft that uses email and fraudulent websites designed to steal your personal information, such as your phone number or bank account information.

Avoid Illegal Websites by Sticking to Brand Names and Doing a Little Homework

The best way to avoid pirate movie sites is to stick to well-known services and apps from brands that create content or are authorized to distribute it. When in doubt about a source, search the domain name online to look for information to make sure it is a legitimate site. You will be able to find information about whether it’s a legitimate company, as well as any concerns users may have registered regarding malware, privacy or other issues.

For extra caution, you can download add-ons to your search engine (ie. Google Chrome, Yahoo, or Firefox) to prevent illegal websites from popping up in your internet search. Options include:

Interested in learning more?

Access legitimate streaming services on our “Where to Watch” page.

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