Malware infection is the most likely and potentially most harmful negative consequence of accessing pirated TV, film and sports content. Malware comes in different shapes and sizes but each is designed to infiltrate your device or network, invade your privacy, and profit those who violate your boundaries. Some malware is annoying but relatively harmless while others are more sinister. Trojan Horse malware, also known as Remote Access Trojans are the latter.
How do Remote Access Trojans work?
Remote Access Trojans (RATs) do what their name suggests. Once on your computer or mobile device, they open a backdoor that allows a hacker remote, administrative access. That means the hacker not only can see what’s happening within your device, but they can control it as completely as you can, and without your knowledge.
What can a malicious stranger controlling your device do?
RATs allow hackers to:
- Covertly monitor activity: Hackers can watch everything you do within and around your compromised device. They can not only watch all of your inner-device activity, they can use your device to spy on you in the real world by secretly activating your camera and microphone. Hackers have been known to use remotely recorded compromising video to blackmail unsuspecting victims.
- Log keystrokes: Even if hackers can’t see passwords or other confidential information as you type, trojan horse malware allows them to record all of your keystrokes which allows them to decipher the sensitive information anyway.
- Access sensitive information: Whether by watching you access confidential accounts (e.g., credit card, bank, medical, insurance, education, IRS, social security, online shopping), or by stealing your usernames and passwords, hackers can access all of your sensitive, personal data. Among other things, they can then steal from your bank accounts, make purchases in your name and sell your information on the black market.
- Modify device settings, files and apps: Since hackers have the same device controls that you do, they can make the same alterations, deletions and downloads that you can. If they choose, they can wipe your hard drive clean or download additional malware or illegal content.
- Add your device to a Botnet: Hackers can infect your computer with bots that then join with others to participate in (often illegal) activities such as Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, torrenting and Bitcoin mining.
Avoid malware attacks by avoiding illegal content
People who access illegal content are much more likely to suffer malware attacks than those who don’t. Given the immense damage that RATs can do, it certainly doesn’t seem worth the risk.
Interested in learning more?
Look for these red flags to avoid pirate websites and the risks of malware.