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INTERPOL aims to deal a blow to digital piracy

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INTERPOL is stepping up its fight against online piracy after this ever-popular ‘activity’ has seen 60% growth in some countries over the past year.

“Digital piracy is yet another crime area impacted by COVID-19. Confinement linked with reduced income has seen a global surge in the past 12 months,” said the agency’s Secretary General Jurgen Stock.

The aim of the INTERPOL Stop Online Piracy (I-SOP) initiative (I-SOP) – which will be headed by INTERPOL’s Illicit Markets team and will rely on cooperation with the Korean National Police Agency – is to work against cybercriminals involved in various flavors of digital piracy. This includes fighting against crimes involving online property rights infringement, dismantling illegal online marketplaces and targeting criminal networks, and taking hold of their assets.

Beyond bringing the fight against digital piracy to people’s doors, the five-year initiative will see the Korean National Police Agency cooperate with INTERPOL in building partnerships across industries, international organizations, and academia.

No such thing as a free lunch

The project also seeks to raise awareness of the threats that using pirated content poses, including exposing people to a higher risk of having their devices compromised by malware, which may eventually lead to threat actors getting their hands on sensitive data.

Indeed, according to a survey commissioned by the US-based Digital Citizens Alliance, Americans who used piracy devices or apps were three times more likely to report an issue involving malware compared to those who didn’t ‘succumb to the temptation’.

The pandemic-powered transition to remote work has also exacerbated the problem, since many remote workers use their home networks both to perform tasks for their work and to access pirated content. This is especially worrying when it comes to people in professions that handle sensitive data, such as military, national security, and law enforcement personnel as well as finance, legal and medical professionals.

“Fifty percent of those who work in jobs that can include sensitive or confidential information who said they had a piracy device in their home reported having an issue with malware in the last year,” reads the survey.

The DCA’s executive director Tom Galvin warned that people weren’t aware of the consequences: “Many Americans don’t realize that they open a window to their home when they plug a piracy device into their network. And if they work in jobs that can affect the economy or national security, for example, it’s a recipe for disaster,”

Generally speaking, the best thing you can do to minimize the risk of your devices being compromised is to stick to downloading from official sources and using an up-to-date security solution that can protect you from malicious software and other internet-borne threats.

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