WASHINGTON, D.C. — A group of 15 state attorneys general have launched a public service campaign to warn consumers about the risk of malware from visiting piracy sites.
The PSAs are running on TV, radio, and social media in 15 states during July and August, and were organized by the group Digital Citizens Alliance.
Tom Galvin, the executive director of the group, said that additional PSAs are planned with attorneys general from other states.
“Criminals are exploiting stolen content by baiting consumers to view videos and songs and then stealing their IDs and financial information,” Galvin said. “It should be a wake-up call for consumers.”
He pointed to research showing that merely visiting piracy sites can expose users to malware — so-called “drive by downloads.”
“They can take over your computer’s camera, without you even knowing about it,” Mark Brnovich of Arizona says in one of the spots.
Many of the state attorneys general are tasked with consumer protection responsibilities in their states.
Among those participating in the campaign are Curtis Hill of Indiana, Andy Beshear of Kentucky, Karl Racine of Washington D.C., Derek Schmidt of Kansas, Tim Fox of Montana, Ellen Rosenblum of Oregon, George Jepsen of Connecticut, Marty Jackley of South Dakota, Jeff Landry of Louisiana, Wayne Stenehjem of North Dakota, Brad Schimel of Wisconsin, Lawrence Wasden of Idaho, Josh Stein of North Carolina, and Doug Chin of Hawaii.
The Federal Trade Commission has also warned about malware on the sites.
The Digital Citizens Alliance cited research by RiskIQ that found that 1 in 3 piracy sites expose visitors to malware. RiskIQ estimated that piracy sites were making about $70 million a year from allowing malware to be placed on their sites.