Why should you pay for a video-on-demand service when you can get to stream films and TV show at less or free? This appears to have been the case that has come under several authorities’ radar and is reported to be a lucrative business for a select few. This habit is not new at all because – what is the point of owning a top-tier subscription if you cannot pass your account details to someone else at a small fee or entirely free?
The password syndicate is a global business that has grown over the last couple of years when subscription services started gaining momentum. Culprits have a reason for onboarding into the illegal system of accessing movies (or music streaming services, including Spotify where Premium account details are accessible on the internet even without trying too hard to search for them – but that is a story for another day) – and that is getting services and products at a bargain because let’s face it, a lot of people cannot pay an equivalent of KES 1200 each month if they can get the same facilities from other not-so-legal sources.
To put this story into perspective, and highlight its seriousness to VOD companies such as Netflix and Hulu, it is reported that a 21-year old Australian man made more than KES 30 million from illegally dealing in streaming services’ password-selling business. The case was revealed by authorities such as the FBI, which stated that the sold accounts were collected from unknowing victims. How do they obtain account details again? Well, it is said that a form of cyber attack referred to as ‘credential surfing’ is used where a substantial number of previously leaked login details are posted on a site and matched to an existing account.
To address this issue (of course, because Netflix, among other content streaming services, is losing millions of dollars in the process), Netflix/Spotify/Hulu, among others, will use the services of an AI-powered tool developed by U.K.-based Synamedia that will detect unusual activities in accounts such as accounts being used in two vastly distant locations at once. Once the firm signs a deal with the services, then freeloaders will have to find another way to get access to content. It is also reported that the axe on illegal account holders should be coming down in the near future.
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