You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Study Warns of Malware on ‘Pirate’ Apps Loaded on Kodi Boxes

WASHINGTON — The entertainment industry in recent years has taken aim at a new front in piracy — so-called Kodi boxes, which sell legally but come loaded with infringing content.

Now a group is warning that consumers risk serious attacks from malware for accessing the pirated material.

The Digital Citizens Alliance, a non-profit focused on issues of internet safety, issued a study on Thursday that showed that malware from the apps stole usernames and passwords. The organization has received funding from the Motion Picture Association of America in recent years.

The study, “Fishing in the Piracy Stream: How the Dark Web of Entertainment Is Exposing Consumers to Harm,” focused on devices, known as Kodi boxes or “jailbroken” Fire TV sticks, that resemble Roku or Apple TV boxes yet offer apps that include pirated movies or live sports broadcasts.

“If apps on the box or that are later downloaded have malware, the user has helped the hacker past network security,” according to the study. “Like a trojan horse, the pirate apps are welcomed into the consumer’s home because they purport to offer the gift of free content, only to use their position inside the walls to launch an attack.” According to the group, researchers conducted 500 hours of tests.

One researcher downloaded an ad-supported movie and sports app Mobdro, and it contained malware that forwarded a user’s wifi name and password to a server that appeared to be in Indonesia, according to the study. In another instance, malware uploaded, “without permission, 1.5 terabytes of data from the researcher’s device.” Researchers also found piracy apps supported by advertisers, including Amazon and MiniCooper.

The study was done along with cybersecurity company Dark Wolfe Consulting.

The Canadian cybersecurity firm Sandvine found that almost 10% of the homes in North America are using Kodi devices, which is about in line with some other estimates. A Digital Citizens Alliance survey of 2,073 Americans found that 13% had a device that enabled the streaming of pirated content.
“We know streaming is growing, and we also know that pirates and hackers go to where the money is. They use advertising and malware,” said Tom Galvin, the executive director of the group.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Comcast X1 DAZN

    Comcast Adds DAZN Sports-Streaming Service to Xfinity Flex, Sets Launch on X1

    DAZN, the digital sports service headed by ex-ESPN boss John Skipper, is now available to Comcast broadband customers on Xfinity Flex and will be available on Xfinity X1 this fall. It’s the first distribution deal for DAZN with a major U.S. provider since it debuted the combat-sports-oriented service in the States a year ago. In [...]

  • YouTube logo

    YouTube Raises Bar for Channel Verification, Stripping Some Creators of Verified Status

    YouTube is making it harder for channels to receive a verification badge indicating their authenticity — and the program’s new requirements mean that some channels won’t be eligible for verification. Like other internet platforms, YouTube indicates to viewers that specific channels are officially run by the creator, artist, celebrity or company they represent with an [...]

  • BuzzFeed - Katie Sitter

    BuzzFeed Taps Activision Blizzard's Katie Sitter as Head of HR (EXCLUSIVE)

    BuzzFeed hired Katie Sitter, most recently an HR exec at Activision Blizzard, as senior VP of people. Sitter, who starts at the company Sept. 30, will lead the BuzzFeed HR organization and oversee strategic initiatives related to organizational planning, talent acquisition, learning and development, performance management, compensation and benefits, labor relations, and diversity, equity, and [...]

  • Kano

    Kano Tipped to Launch ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Frozen’ Coding Kits

    Educational consumer electronics startup Kano is getting ready to release “Star Wars” and “Frozen” coding kits, according to regulatory filings. Recent FCC filings made by the company reveal plans to release a product called “The Force Coding Kit” as well as one called “The Disney Frozen Coding Kit.” Kano representatives didn’t respond to multiple requests [...]

  • Apple Arcade

    Apple Officially Launches Apple Arcade Game Subscription Service

    Apple officially cut the ribbon for its new game subscription service Thursday: Priced $4.99 per month, Apple Arcade offers unlimited access to over 100 exclusive games. Apple Arcade was released alongside iOS 13, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system. Some of the titles available through the subscription package include “Lego Brawls” from Lego [...]

  • Kim Kardashian Kim Kardashian out and

    Nielsen Now Tracks Celebs' Social-Media Touts of TV Shows

    Nielsen is providing a new lens into how celebrities and talent can boost the exposure of TV shows on social media. The measurement company announced that its Social Content Ratings solution now measures talent promotion of television programs across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. According to Nielsen, talent now drives nearly 60% of all social engagement [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content