Disney isn’t available in the UK or other markets yet, pushing people to stream and torrent shows
Disney launched its feverishly-anticipated streaming service, Disney Plus – stylised as Disney+ in the marketing, this month in the United States, Canada and Netherlands.
The Netflix rival ships with a truck load of content from the House of Mouse, including its animated classics like The Lion King, 101 Dalmatians, and Lilo & Stitch, as well as television shows like That’s So Raven, Even Stevens, Lizzie McGuire, and Hannah Montana.
Not only that, but it also has movies and series inherited from the recent acquisitions from Disney, including every entry in the Star Wars series, the animated X-Men series from 2002, as well as all 665 episodes of The Simpsons. Documentaries from National Geographic like Free Solo also make the cut on the service, which costs $6.99 a month.
However, it’s the original content created specifically for the Disney+ service that seems to be causing the biggest stir amongst fans. There is a documentary-style comedy-drama series based around the High School Musical films that launched the careers of Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens called High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.
Disney has also created a live-action remake of The Lady and the Tramp, and the Star Wars live-action spinoff series The Mandalorian, which is directed by Jon Favreau who also helmed the box office-busting The Lion King earlier this year.
And its the original series that seems to be pushing Disney fans in countries where the Netflix-esque streaming service has yet to launch who are turning to illegal methods to make sure they’re up-to-date with the latest episodes, which are being rolled-out weekly to the $6.99 a month service.
Torrent-focused blog TorrentFreak reports that “hundreds of thousands” of downloads and streams of Disney+ shows – in particular, The Mandalorian – have been recorded on torrent repositories and nefarious streaming sites. While The Mandalorian is not quite yet on the scale of Game Of Thrones, it notes that “the potential is certainly there.”
HBO’s hugely-popular Game Of Thrones made history as the most pirated show in history. During its earlier seasons, the vast scale of the piracy was likely due to the fact that audiences outside of the United States had to wait weeks or months for broadcasters to put the latest season on the air. For the final few seasons, Sky TV broadcast the latest episode at the same time as it aired on HBO in the States.
The fact that Disney+ isn’t launching in the UK until March 2020 serves as an incentive to break the law for some fans, TorrentFreak notes. That said, there are perfectly legal way to get access to the North America-only streaming service for the time being.
After all, torrents and streams can put you at risk.
Head of UK Cyber and Privacy at multinational accounting firm KPMG, Martin Tyley, talked about the risks thousands of Star Wars and Disney fans are taking when they rush to watch
The Mandalorian is the runaway of Disney at the moment, getting hundreds of thousands of downloads
the latest shows using streaming sites, third-party add-ons to the Kodi media player, so-called Kodi Boxes, as well as torrents.
Tyley told Express.co.uk, “Those who have illegally downloaded material in the past will continue to do so, as a release date alone is rarely their motivating factor. However, for example, parents may feel pressured by their children to provide them with the latest shows, and this is where cyber-criminals look to exploit them.
Once a hacker has access to an individual’s personal data, it is then processed, listened to, and may compromise any or all activity on that device as well as any other connected devices
“The use of illegal streaming services, potentially offering access to all of these channels for a small monthly fee, opens people up to significant vulnerabilities. Hackers may be able to harvest credit card information or install malware on the device.
“Once a hacker has access to an individual’s personal data, it is then processed, listened to, and may compromise any or all activity on that device as well as any other connected devices. Unfortunately, the user often has no real knowledge of how unsecure their device can be and can subsequently also expose their immediate friends, family or contacts with whom the owner is exchanging data with.”
It’s worth noting this threat isn’t merely academic either. Hackers and cyber-criminals have used the popularity of shows to target a vast number of users looking for a particular show, or movie.
For example, ahead of the start of Game Of Thrones season 7 on July 16, 2017, ransomware was introduced on The Pirate Bay designed to capitalise on the influx of users looking to download Game Of Thrones episodes for free. When users clicked on the page to download the torrent file, a malicious pop-under advertisement quietly redirected users behind their back and infected the machine with Cerber ransomware.
Thousands of torrents of The Mandalorian, not to mention other Disney shows, have appears online
Security firm Malwarebytes discovered the threat, which leveraged a number of vulnerable browser plugins to silently download the malicious payload to a system.
Malwarebytes security researcher Jerome Segura said: “Popular torrent site The Pirate Bay was serving ransomware via a malvertising attack this weekend.
“The ad network changes but the modus operandi remains the same.”
And it’s not only downloads that run the risk of infecting your computer. Streaming sites are ideal locations for so-called watering hole attacks, where an incentive – like the ability to watch an episode of The Mandalorian for free, for example – lures unsuspecting visitors, Siege CEO Syversen has cautioned.
Hackers use the increased volume of traffic to attack a high number of users and gain access to personal information on their computers.
“They use that as bait,” he told Consumer Reports “It’s the internet equivalent of going to the bad part of town and buying a movie that fell off the back of a truck.”
Aside from the dangers to your own internet-connected device, there are also wider implications for the industry. Those who enjoy The Mandalorian and want to see more from the hit fantasy drama series should not stream or download episodes for free, since this will hardly push Disney to commission more episodes.