There’s nothing better than watching your favorite teams and matches in real time. 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 top games like Tokyo Olympics, but some of them require a paid subscription in order for you to watch live matches or see exclusives.
Luckily, there are sports streaming websites that allow you to watch matches for free. From football live streams in esports, anyone can watch live matches anywhere and anytime. However, while there are free and legit live streaming sites, there are also many fake, malicious, and insecure sites.
Are sports streaming sites safe?
As mentioned, sports streaming sites are generally safe, but there is no denying that there are malicious sites as well. In fact, according to the Premier League, around one million people watch football live streams illegally. The temperature also reported that league officials are taking steps to block these illegal live streams.
Since these sites will continue to scam people, the best way to deal with them is to identify them before browsing or watching on streaming sites. Also, it is recommended to use a VPN or proxy while streaming online to protect your IP address. Apart from that, here are other ways to check if a sports streaming site is safe and secure.
How to check if a streaming site is safe
1. Is it a reputable site?
First of all, do you know the site? Is it from a reputable brand or channel? It is highly recommended and encouraged to watch from well-known channel, brand or streaming sites like ESPN, FOX and others. Ultimately, watch from a site recognized by the sports community.
If you are visiting a streaming site for the first time, take the time to research it. Find out how long, learn what the sports community is saying, and check who’s behind the website. If a streaming site asks you to pay to watch a game, be careful about the payment details you provide.
Some reputable sites ask for payment since they also pay to stream the game, so this is normal. 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 advertisements?
Have you ever gone 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, you are the product. And free streaming sites often make up for their service by running lots of ads.
Unfortunately, some of these websites display malicious advertisements. 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 were malicious.
If you’ve ever used various streaming sites, that means half of them contained pop-up ads with malware attacks disguised as fake “close ad” buttons. Also, if you’ve ever needed to download software to stream the game you wanted, it’s most likely malware. Remember that simple internet rules apply when browsing streaming sites. This includes not clicking on suspicious links or advertisements and downloading dubious files.
3. Do you have security software?
If you have security software on your device, it will protect you and keep you safe from malware. You can also try scanning a website before browsing it. There are many malware scanning websites out there, so make it a habit to check a streaming site.
If you don’t have security software installed and can’t 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 site’s URL website. Is there a lock icon next to it? If so, that means the page has an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. This technology ensures that your connection and 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 keep the lock icon in mind when accessing 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 structured? Is it easy to navigate? Are the links and pages responsive? If your answer to these questions is entirely negative, it is best to leave 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 goal for this site.
Dishonest links are a common trait of fake or malicious streaming sites. These are links that entice you to open a link. It can be an advertisement, a download or other links that will make you curious or compel you to click on them. Also, when you click on links or buttons, malicious sites often redirect you to unrelated sites or to multiple sites, so that’s a bad sign. These websites also usually contain explicit images in the form of advertisements or banners to trick users into clicking on them. Ultimately, if a website doesn’t look right, it’s best not to continue browsing to avoid introducing malware to your device.
5. How does the site present its content?
Legal sports streaming sites have a license to broadcast live games, so you can easily stream the game on the website itself. Meanwhile, most illegal sites host live games on another site. If you find yourself redirected to another site to watch the live stream, you 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 actual video file. 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 these options, you risk downloading harmful and illegal content.
Protect yourself and enjoy watching
Remember to ask yourself the above questions every time you go to a new sports streaming site. These are also useful even when watching non-sports streaming sites. Wherever you browse, protect yourself by installing security software and always be alert with the pages you browse. In short, 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 claims no responsibility for them.)