Sports games

How to tell if a sports streaming website is safe

There is nothing better than watching your favorite teams and games as you go. Thanks to the internet, computers and smartphones, there are sports streaming websites that provide the latest tournaments at your fingertips. Many sports channels offer live broadcasts of a range of sports and even high-profile games like the Tokyo Olympics, but some of them require a paid subscription for you to watch the games live or see exclusives.

Fortunately, there are sports streaming websites that allow you to watch games for free. From live football broadcasts in esports anyone can watch live matches anywhere and anytime. However, while there are free and legitimate live streaming sites, there are also many bogus, malicious and insecure sites.

Are sports streaming sites safe?

As mentioned, sports streaming sites are generally safe, but it is undeniable that there are malicious sites as well. In fact, according to the Premier League, around a million people illegally watch live football streams. The temperature also reported that league officials were taking action to block such illegal live broadcasts.

Since these sites will continue to rip people off, the best way to deal with them is to identify them before browsing or watching any streaming sites. Also, it is recommended to use VPN or proxy when streaming online to protect your IP address. Apart from that, here are some other ways to check if a sports streaming site is safe and secure.

How to check if a streaming site is safe

1. Is this a reputable site?

First of all, do you know the site? Does it come from a reputable brand or chain? Watching from a well-known channel, brand, or streaming sites such as ESPN, FOX, and others is highly recommended and encouraged. Ultimately, look from a site recognized by the athletic community.

If this is your first time visiting a streaming site, take the time to research it. Find out how long it’s been, find out what the sports community is saying about it, and check out who is behind the website. If a streaming site requires you to pay to watch a game, be careful with the payment details you provide.

Some reputable sites ask for payment because they also pay to stream the game, so that’s okay. However, this still does not guarantee if a site is legitimate. The best way to enjoy your game and be safe while streaming is to watch from well-known sites.

2. Are there a lot of announcements?

Have you ever been to a free streaming site that has too many pop-up ads? Here’s a sad truth about products and services: if you don’t pay for it, then you are the product. And free streaming sites often make up for their service by showing lots of ads.

Unfortunately, some of these websites display malicious ads. In reality, to research by Belgians from iMinds – KU Leuven and Stony Brook University, USA, analyzed over 23,000 streaming websites and found that around 50% of the video overlays on the site are malicious.

If you’ve used various streaming sites before, that means half of them contained pop-up ads with malware attacks disguised as fake “ad close” buttons. Also, if you’ve ever had to download software to stream the game you wanted, it’s probably malware. Remember, simple internet rules apply when browsing streaming sites. This includes not clicking on suspicious links or advertisements and downloading questionable files.

3. Do you have security software?

If you have security software on your device, it will keep you safe and protect you from malware. You can also try scanning a website before browsing it. There are many malware analysis websites out there, so make a habit of checking out a streaming site.

If no security software is installed and you cannot download one or scan the URL immediately, an easy way to check if a streaming site is safe is to look to the left of the website URL. Is there a padlock icon next to it? If so, it means the page has a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. This technology ensures that your connection and your data are safe, secure and free from cyber threats. URLs with an SSL certificate begin with HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure), which is also a good indication of a secure website.

For added security, make sure you have security software installed and always consider the lock icon when entering a site for the first time.

4. What does the website look like?

Sometimes it can be pretty obvious that a site is suspicious or fake just by looking at its design and layout. Is the site well put together? Is it easy to navigate? Are the links and pages responsive? If your answer to these questions is a “no” then it is best to go and look for another site to stream your games. A webmaster who does not care about the design and functionality of his website may have another agenda for that site.

Dishonest links are a common trait of bogus or malicious streaming sites. These are links that entice you to open a link. It could be an advertisement, download, or other links that will make you curious or force you to click on it. Also, when you click on links or buttons, malicious sites often redirect you to unrelated sites or to multiple sites, so this is a bad sign. These websites also usually contain self-explanatory images in the form of advertisements or banners to entice users to click on them. Ultimately, if a website doesn’t look right, it’s best not to continue browsing to avoid introducing malware into your device.

5. How does the site present its content?

Legal sports streaming sites are licensed to stream games live, so you can easily stream the game on the website itself. Meanwhile, most of the illegal sites host live games at another site. If you find yourself redirected to another site to watch the live broadcast, you’d better leave immediately before your device becomes a risk.

Moreover, it is also rare for sports streaming sites to allow their users to download the raw video file after the live broadcast. Other sites offer offline viewing, but you don’t get the video file itself. So, if you happen to download a live stream, there are three possibilities: you downloaded an illegal copy of the live stream, you downloaded malware, or both. In all of these options, you risk downloading harmful and illegal content.

Stay safe and enjoy watching

Remember to ask yourself the above questions every time you enter a new sports streaming site. These are also useful even when watching non-sports streaming sites. No matter where you browse, protect yourself by installing security software and always be alert with the pages you browse. Finally, think before you click!

(Devdiscourse journalists were not involved in the production of this article. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse assumes no responsibility in this regard.)