People illegally downloading pirated games, movies, and software cost the global economy over $US800 billion in 2014, according to research from Arxan.
Arxan reported the figure in its State of Application Security report. The research was conducted over the last three and a half years and saw the group examine more than 50 of the best known piracy sites.
It revealed there were over 1.6 million pirated copies of movies, TV shows, games, and software packages, estimated to be worth more than $US800 billion, available for download on the internet in 2014.
Disturbingly, the research suggested the trend will continue in 2015, predicting there will be 1.96 million pirated assets by the end of the year.
Movies and TV were listed as the most pirated assets, with the researchers detecting over one million shows being offered as illegal downloads in 2014.
Digital movie piracy is growing as users shift to illegally download shows only available on select streaming services, such as “Game of Thrones.”
In 2014, Torrent Freak reported “Game of Thrones” season four finale was illegally downloaded 1.5 million times, 12 hours after being aired on TV.
More recently, Torrent Freak reported the “Game of Thrones” season five finale had been downloaded over 1.5 million times a mere eight hours of airing in June.
The financial impact of the piracy to HBO, which makes “Game of Throwns,” remains unknown.
However, Arxan researchers said by the end of the year they expect the number of shows and movies available for illegal download to increase to 1.3 million.
Computer games were listed as another growth area for illegal download. Over 23,342 titles were available for illegal download in 2014 and that “if current levels continue,” 31,000 will be pirated by the end of the year.
The researchers said the growth comes during a sophistication in piracy sites distribution and money making processes.
“Owners of pirate distribution sites are making millions from malicious advertising on sites sharing stolen movies and television shows while placing Internet users at increasing risk,” wrote the researchers.
“The largest content theft sites generated more than $US200 million in advertising-driven revenues in 2014.”
Disturbingly, the research said, despite leveraging semi-legitimate advertising strategies, many of the sites are still hosting dangerous content that can infect visiting machines with malware.
To deal with the problem the researchers said industry will have to develop better security practices and “lobby [the] organisations that are responsible for setting standards and rules that penalise piracy,” to take a more aggressive stance.
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