MORE than a million illegal TV set-top boxes which allow consumers to stream content illegally have been sold in the UK in the last two years, investigators have warned.
Up to a quarter of Britons are estimated to access digital material illegally, but most people do not realise digital piracy could be putting them at risk.
The report said dangers include inappropriate advertising that could be seen by young children, electrical safety associated with counterfeit parts and financial cyber crime.
A joint report by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and City of London Police, along with other organisations, said the organised criminal gangs behind it were profiting by millions of pounds from the fraud and were often associated with other serious crimes.
It warns of several worrying trends emerging that consumers need to be aware of.
These include the dark web and bitcoin boom, as more criminal gangs are using the dark web – hidden from the mainstream internet – to sell illicit information, such as the illegal software used to modify set-top boxes or the customer data they have acquired through malware.
It also warns that the availability of illegal add-ons to software has helped organised gangs reach a wider audience, but these add-ons have no parental controls or security standards.
Social media streaming is now overtaking web streaming, with most streaming now happening through social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. This is putting more users at risk of malware or security issues, the report said. It also described how social media commerce was replacing the pub or car boot sale.