MATT GEPHARDT

The added cybersecurity risks of watching free streams of Oscar-nominated movies

Mar 4, 2024, 10:32 PM | Updated: Mar 5, 2024, 6:08 am

This weekend's Academy Awards show has boosted demand for many of its nominated films. (KSL TV)...

This weekend's Academy Awards show has boosted demand for many of its nominated films. (KSL TV)

(KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY –– This weekend’s Academy Awards show has boosted demand for many of its nominated films. The continually increasing prices of streaming services – Apple, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Netflix and others raised their costs last October – is pushing many folks to look for ways to watch these films for free. But cybersecurity experts warn searching for free streams can get way more costly.

“Oppenheimer” is the bomb apparently when it comes to cyber risks. The cybersecurity experts at Nord VPN came to that conclusion after analyzing thousands of links promising free streams of this year’s crop of Oscar-nominated films.

“We just added in a search engine – pick one – ‘watch free’ and then the name of the movie, and then you get tons of links,” NordVPN’s Andrianus Warmenhoven said of their process.

“Oppenheimer” streams generated the most links to sites with phishing, malware and other malicious programs. “Barbie” and “Poor Things” round out the top three.

Warmenhoven said Oscar time always prompts a huge uptick in people trying to find movies for free. So does summertime.

“It’s usually when there’s a hype coming on, especially in social media, when people talk about it,” he said. “Everybody wants to enjoy the movie at the moment and be in the talk and be in group talking about it.”

But trying to “be in the know” by watching free streams of the latest movies can cause a lot of trouble. Whether it’s a film, TV show or a live sports event, you risk anything from viruses and invasive ads to identity theft and having a cyber crook empty your bank account.

“There’s also, of course, the legality,” Warmenhoven said. “In a lot of countries, it is simply illegal.”

Using a free stream to feed your Oscar fix could bring you a fine or other penalty from your internet provider, loss of service and other legal bruhaha. That’s not hyperbole. The internet is full of examples of people fined or sued for illegally uploading or downloading copyrighted material, including a Minnesota woman accused of sharing 24 songs over the internet who was ordered to pay $1.92 million.

Warmenhoven says only one option protects you.

“Simply don’t do it.”

The Motion Picture Association estimates thieves rake in $2 billion a year with illegal streams just from ads and subscriber fees, alone. Factor in compromised identities and fraud, their actual haul is likely much greater.

KSL 5 TV Live

Matt Gephardt

Dave Donegan showing Matt Gephardt the items that were broken in his move....

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

How liable is a moving company if your stuff gets damaged?

Dave Donegan’s home was just about to go into renovation, so he hired a moving and storage company to hold onto his household goods while work was underway.

20 hours ago

FILE - The Amazon app is seen on a smartphone, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, in Marple Township, Pa. (AP ...

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Get Gephardt helps solve Amazon misdelivery mystery for Manti man

Most of us are ordering more and more things online, and it's sometimes frustrating with things like an Amazon misdelivery mystery.

10 days ago

Scrolling social media, Joyce Lake spotted an ad for a doll. However, not only did the doll not sho...

Matt Gephardt

Imposters are using trust in law enforcement to scam Utahns

Scrolling social media, Joyce Lake spotted an ad for a doll.

11 days ago

Matt Gephardt working with Bona Rose on the CarChex documents....

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Get Gephardt: West Valley woman says her extended car warranty claim was denied unfairly

Many drivers buy an extended auto warranty to cover unexpected repair bills. But when a West Valley City woman turned to her warranty provider for major help on her car's transmission, they turned her down - repeatedly.

15 days ago

Matt Gephardt meeting with Denis Hawkins after a rental car company after they ignored his calls fo...

Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt helps Spanish Fork man clear up insurance claim for rental car damage

Get Gephardt clears up an international rental car insurance standstill.

16 days ago

FILE - An airplane flies through the clouds in Salt Lake City. (Jeffrey D. Allred / Deseret News)...

Matt Gephardt

How recent airline incidents are changing habits and impacting airfare costs

After a year of headlines lamenting runway incursions and midair close calls, the wheels may be coming off for the airline industry. Literally.

17 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

The added cybersecurity risks of watching free streams of Oscar-nominated movies