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  • Writer's pictureOliver Walsh

The Piracy-Malware Nexus in India: Key Insights and Report Recommendations

A recent study reveals that digital piracy in India, which caused $3.08 billion in financial losses in 2022, significantly heightens the risk of malware infections. This underlines the urgent need for comprehensive anti-piracy measures, improved regulations, and targeted education to protect consumers and the entertainment industry.


A 2024 study by Dr Paul A. Watters, Dr Shruti Mantri, and Dr Manish Gangwar investigated the connection between digital piracy and cyber threats, such as malware, in India. The report presents fascinating insights and commentary into the actual risk consumers face when obtaining content from illegitimate sources.


Introduction

Digital piracy is a significant issue in India, severely impacting the entertainment industry. The illegal distribution and sharing of copyrighted content result in substantial financial losses, estimated by consulting firm EY to be $3.08 billion in 2022 alone. This loss affects investment in new projects and talent development, ultimately leading to diminished production quality and stifled creativity. Moreover, piracy undermines job security and discourages new investments in the Indian Film and TV industry.


The Link Between Piracy and Malware

The report demonstrates that piracy websites present a high risk of malware infection for Indian consumers. A study using Google's VirusTotal highlighted that consumers face a 10.5 times greater risk of encountering malware on piracy sites than mainstream websites. Malware types associated with piracy include viruses, trojans, ransomware, spyware, and adware, which can lead to data theft, identity fraud, and other cybercrimes. The study found that piracy sites pose the highest risk (59%), followed by adult industry ads (57%) and gambling ads (53%).


Consumer Perception

The study established that consumers underestimate their cyber risk significantly, perceiving it to be 2.03 times higher on piracy sites than mainstream legitimate sites (as noted above, the actual risk is between 10.5 times greater). Young adults aged 18-24 are shown to have the lowest awareness of associated cyber risks.


Discussion and Recommendations

To tackle the risks associated with digital piracy, the study made several recommendations:

  • Law Enforcement: Prioritise digital copyright crimes and train law enforcement agencies. Establish state-level IP crime units across India to ensure proper investigation and enforcement.

  • Regulatory Reform: Improve anti-piracy and anti-malware regulations. Engage stakeholders and infrastructure providers in discussions to enhance the effectiveness of takedown rules for piracy sites hosting malicious content.

  • Education: Launch targeted awareness campaigns for the 18-24 age group. Integrate digital citizenship and online safety modules into school curricula. Organise industry workshops to educate professionals about copyright laws and digital rights management.


Importance of the Study in the Fight Against Piracy

This study is critical in the battle against film and TV piracy because it offers objective evidence connecting digital piracy to significant cybersecurity risks, such as malware infections. By calculating the financial losses and showing the increased threat of cyber attacks, the study emphasises the critical need for thorough anti-piracy measures.


This research provides a foundational resource for stakeholders to develop well-informed strategies addressing digital piracy's economic and security impacts and should be widely shared and quoted.


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