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Malware, Data Theft, and Scams: Researchers Expose Risks of Free Livestreaming Websites

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Vetting free livestreaming sites.

Researchers from KU Leuven-iMinds and Stony Brook University have found that viewers of free livestreaming sites often are exposed to malware infections, personal data theft, and scams.

Credit: KU Leuven

Researchers from the University of Leuven's (KU Leuven) iMinds department and Stony Brook University found free livestreaming services (FLIS) users are often exposed to malware infections, personal data theft, and scams.

Up to 50 percent of the video overlay ads on free livestreaming websites are malicious, according to the researchers.

"We have assessed the impact of free livestreaming services on users," says KU Leuven researcher M. Zubair Rafique. "We also exposed the infrastructure of the FLIS ecosystem."

The researchers developed a semi-automated tool that helped identify more than 23,000 free livestreaming websites, corresponding with more than 5,600 domain names. The team then performed more than 850,000 visits to the identified FLIS domains and analyzed more than 1 terabyte of resulting traffic. Rafique says they found FLIS services often use scripts that try to detect and defeat popular ad-blocker extensions.

The researchers say they have developed an accurate and effective classifier to alert FLIS users to potentially dangerous pages, which also can help security analysts find and report unknown FLIS pages to curb copyright and trademark infringements.

From KU Leuven
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Abstracts Copyright © 2016 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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