The dangers of illegal downloading on your PC

posted by Chris Valentine

There are many dangers of illegal downloading ... photo by CC user sillygwailo on Flickr

I am probably the laziest person I know when it comes to getting around to watching new movies. Even though I have the best of intentions to get to the cinema and to watch the big movies on the big screen, it’s usually four months later that I’ll actually get around to watching them.

And then, of course, it’s too late and the movie has been on the shelves for months, gathering dust. I normally just jump onto piratebay and download it – but recently I’ve been steering clear of this option because I heard from a friend how she had downloaded a new movie and unknowingly infected her PC with a terrible virus!

Long story short, she had to get a new computer after her failed attempts to rescue her computer failed dismally. What made it even worse was that she’d just gotten recently married and had all of the wedding shots on her PC which she was editing.

There were backup copies, of course in the cloud, but the edited versions which she had spent countless hours on were all lost, and she had to start again. You can imagine the exasperation she felt… There are plenty of security risks when it comes to illegal downloading, and I want to discuss some of the dangers today in the hopes that it helps you to keep your computer safe. Using online computers shouldn’t be something that is fraught but it can be if you don’t stick to the rules! Here are just a few of the dangers of illegal downloading…

Legal dangers

When you download a song, game, piece of software, film or TV show from a file-sharing website or any other kind of website where you can acquire these items, and you do not pay for it, you’re infringing copyright. What this means is that you are putting yourself in the path of legal problems from the people whose copyright has been infringed. It’s possible for a person to face criminal prosecution for copyright infringement, and while someone who occasionally downloads songs through a peer-to-peer (P2P) network is probably not going to be the biggest fish on the radar of the copyright infringement people, someone who is large scale user or who is involved in a file-sharing website might be more likely to face problems.

Computer dangers

When you’re downloading something illegally, it’s not going have to regulations in place to ensure that the piece is virus free and that it’s working well. You essentially run the risk of installing a movie, but that movie may well have a whole host of issues like spyware, viruses, bugs or other unwelcome and unsavoury additions as part of the download. Consider the risk of downloading a TV show, only to find that you have now unwittingly opened up your computer to a hacker who can now see everything that you do on your computer. This means that any internet banking that you do, any files that you have and any sensitive information is now at their fingertips. Quite the price to pay just to watch the latest episode of True Blood, no? Far better to consider something like Netflix for your computer as a means to getting around the nasties.

Social Issues

If you have friends who are downloading shows and movies, and you’re downloading shows and movies, and your friends have friends who are downloading shows and movies, then that’s a whole lot of people who aren’t paying for their entertainment. Entertainment is a huge part of society and culture, and if we’re not funding independent and smaller budget films, music and shows by buying their products, either online or in the real world, then they’re going to find it harder and harder to stay afloat. The big companies will have a monopoly on the production and we’ll be at the mercy of Hollywood. Not a great idea!

I hope this has been illumining about the dangers of downloading illegally, and that you’ll think twice the next time you’re considering it.

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