Brits Risking their Org’s Security by Accessing Pirated Content

As many as six out of 10 Brits who use personal devices at work also use the same device for streaming or downloading pirated content, according to new research by threat management firm RiskIQ.

Whilst the survey found that 80% of individuals in the UK are mindful of the security risks that come with accessing pirated content and sites, four in 10 (40%) do not take into consideration the security implications for their organization when doing so on devices they also take into the workplace.

Reports of employees failing to recognize how their insecure behavior can jeopardize company data is not uncommon. Just last month Infosecurity wrote how workers, whilst seemingly heedful of the need to take steps to safeguard their own data, are less inclined to demonstrate good security when it comes to the data of their company, as they often expect their organization’s IT safety infrastructure to automatically protect all company information.

However, when you consider piracy research by RiskIQ discovered that one-third of sites studied had at least one malware incident during a four-week period with 20 exposing three out of four visitors to malware, employees using the same devices as they do at work to access pirated content is a worrying security risk for businesses.

“Pirate sites are an easy way of distributing malware so it should be a major concern for corporate security teams that so many individuals don’t consider the security implications of accessing pirated content,” commented Ben Harknett, VP EMEA at RiskIQ.

“At RiskIQ we undertook a study of piracy sites for the Digital Citizens Alliance which revealed that individuals who stream or download pirated content online are 28-times more likely to get malware than those who use legitimate services to obtain content. For corporate security this is a 28-times higher risk of malware making its way into the corporate network from employees own devices.”

The firm cite cost and accessibility as the driving factors behind Brits’ use of pirated sites, with the most common reasons given for downloading or streaming pirated content being because it’s free (23%), it’s available before paid (13%), the belief that all content should be free (12%) and because it’s the only way certain content can be accessed in a particular region (10%).

“If users become infected with malware, the malware can be used to steal data from the other applications being used on the device,” Jan Vidar Krey, head of development at Promon, told Infosecurity. “This can be e-mails, contacts and internal company related secrets. The device may also become an access point for getting to the internal company resources for an attacker later.”

“Raising awareness among users can help to some degree. For instance you can try to teach users to only install software from the official software channels (App store, Google Play, etc),” he added.

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