We love watching the newest movies and TV series, but it is not always possible to do it while they are on the big screen or shown on the TV. After that, they might be available on different streaming services, but it can become quite expensive if you have to subscribe to Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and all the others in order to watch all the content you want. There are, however, a huge number of free streaming sites that you can visit to watch almost anything you would like. But not all of them are safe, and you should avoid them. Let’s take a bit more about the risks and how you can protect yourself.
What is illegal streaming?
Streaming, in general, is not illegal, but some rules should be followed. For example, if you decide to stream some illicit copies of movies or TV shows that are in any way not respecting copyright laws. In most cases, you can’t know if you are breaking any rules but if you see that a site looks sketchy it is always better to check the fine print in their terms and conditions. You can also check if the movie itself is available for free streaming. If it is a title that was just released, it is probably still not legally available, especially if it is still on the big screen.
Using streaming devices like Amazon Fire Stick, Roku, Google Chromecasts, or others is also not illegal. However, if you modify their default settings, this might lead to illegal streaming. We are not talking about just simple jailbreaking in order to be able to install some applications that are usually not available, but if you completely change the source code of the device to bypass all the regulations and access, illegal sites might cause you issues. But if you just jailbreak your device to install a VPN to access legal content, for example, in the US, this is entirely legal, and you shouldn’t worry about it.
What are the risks of using illegal streaming sites?
Legal streaming sites are more or less just like a Netflix site or YouTube, so there are almost no risks in using them. They have strict terms and conditions and take the necessary measures to protect their users. However, the illegal ones are completely different. Since they are already breaking quite a lot of rules, they don’t take the security of their visitors very seriously. This is why you should, if possible, avoid them, but if not, at least take some measures to protect yourself. What you can take as security measures is something we will cover in the next section of the article but let’s first talk about some of the risks.
Getting some spyware
It is not that hard to get some malicious software downloaded on your computer without you even knowing. Viruses are easily hidden in the content available on illegal streaming sites. And getting rid of such nasty malware might not be that easy. We are all used to accepting all the cookies we are asked to accept or install some additional piece of software to be able to stream the content on those free sites. Well, hiding something like small spyware in such files is very easy. Or behind all the flashing ads and pop-ups that we see all over.
Many sites will offer you a free trial period or get access to limited content for a limited time if you give them some personal data, including your credit card. However, this is not a wise decision. Such sites are, as we said, not very reliable when it comes to security, so hackers might take advantage of this. It will be pretty simple to hack such sites and steal the information they collected for them. Or it is also possible that the site itself is just a way to mask the real intention of the owner — stealing your personal data.
Torrenting is also completely legal when it is not breaking any copyright rules. But such illegal streaming sites don’t care about those rules. So, you might even end up downloading some torrents that do not respect any restrictions and might hide some malware. If you want to make sure you are using a good torrent site, check this list with some of the best ones. Reputable torrent sites are safer to use, and you can be much calmer when using them to find some content to enjoy.
How to protect yourself
There are a couple of things you can do to protect yourself when using free streaming sites, no matter if they are legal or illegal. We have prepared a shortlist for you:
- Avoid sites that look very suspicious;
- Don’t click on ads that look too good to be accurate;
- Don’t download any additional software if you are asked;
- Don’t provide your personal data;
- Use some antivirus software on your machine;
- Install and use a VPN;
In general, the best way to avoid sites that look too sketchy and the content on them is too new to be available for free online. However, if you still want to try free streaming, following the advice above will keep you safer.