Beware of illegal World Cup streaming of mushrooms in Vietnam

With the ongoing soccer World Cup, the number of fans who want to follow the games online for free has increased significantly. Keywords related to World Cup matches and online streaming platforms have been in the top 20 most searched content every day since November 20th.

In addition to legal and copyrighted broadcasting services, many illegal services are offered to soccer spectators in Vietnam, but these pose security issues, experts say.

Tuan Kien, from northern Vinh Phuc province, said he usually watches football games online and does the same with the World Cup.

In most cases, he chooses illegal sites so that he can watch the games for free.

Kien said it wasn’t difficult to find such sites.

“I would tap websites that appear first. They’re easy to find and don’t require a subscription like pay-TV services,” he said.

A website illegally broadcasting a World Cup match on November 22, 2022.  Photo by VnExpress/Luu Quy

A website illegally broadcasting a World Cup match along with gambling advertisements on November 22, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Luu Quy

Some of the top illegal football watching websites include xoilac, socolive, and vebo.

The operators of these sites steal the content from outside sources and then insert the site’s logo and promotional images for soccer betting services.

“The general method of these websites is to steal TV copyrights, ‘push’ search engine optimization (SEO) to the top of Google to attract traffic, and then get ads for gambling and scam channels,” said Ngo Minh Hieu , an expert with the National Cyber ​​Security Center.

Hieu said that in addition to promoting gambling and illegal services, such sites also lure users into downloading malicious software.

Ads are often placed densely and pop-up frames appear even during the viewing process, suggesting users are clicking to continue watching.

Vietnam has several times detected and blocked websites that broadcast pirated content, including websites streaming movies, but since only the domain name is blocked, operators of such websites only need to create a new domain name to bring them back to life.

In the third quarter of 2022, the Ministry of Information and Communications blocked a number of websites for providing advertising content for betting and various other forms of gambling.

However, these sites were up and running again very soon, with only a few characters in their domain names having changed.

Besides the web version, some also release apps to avoid blocking.

Hieu said xoilac previously promoted a website called “wolcup20” that actually aimed to spread malware.

In addition to information security issues, pirated websites also directly impact fans’ ability to watch international tournaments in the future.

As an agency that buys the rights to broadcast many major tournaments in Vietnam, FPT Play said that sites that broadcast content illegally cause significant losses.

“We’re also facing allegations of copyright infringement, which means we’ll have more difficulties negotiating with partners in the future. If this happens, audiences will be directly affected and lose the chance to watch good quality legal broadcasts, movies and sporting events,” said To Nam Phuong, deputy general manager of FPT Play.

Phuong called for plans to coordinate with network operators to reduce the time it takes to block pirated websites and applications and impose sanctions on companies that advertise on pirated broadcast sites.



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