Can you get a virus from streaming a video?

You can get a virus from streaming a video if you are not using a legitimate streaming site or application and have not secured your device.

Viruses are a type of malware that can attach to specific files and, when activated, can spread through your device and network.

These viruses can also attach themselves to files that are downloaded when you stream videos from illegitimate sites and can infect your device.

Malware and viruses

Although the terms malware and virus are often used interchangeably, malware is technically the umbrella term for any kind of malicious software. This is regardless of how the software works or what it does, it can infect your device and includes viruses.

Viruses are distinguished from other types of malware that can infect your device by the way that their software operates.

Viruses on devices work similarly to viruses in the human body, whereby the software attaches itself to a legitimate file that you download to your computer, then activates once you open the file.

From here, the virus can spread through your device, deleting or encrypting files, modifying applications, and even disabling system functions.

Can you get a virus from streaming a video?

The answer in this case, is that while your device is highly unlikely to get a virus from legal and paid streaming services, you can get a virus if you are using illegal or pirating sites to stream videos from.

Many people assume that when you are streaming a video, you are not downloading any files to your device and therefore, you cannot download any files that viruses are attached to.

This is not true, and you can get a virus or other malware on your device from streaming videos. In order to understand how this can happen, it is important to know that there is not much of a difference between streaming a video and downloading a video.

The only difference is that when you are streaming a video, you watch the content as it downloads, whereas when you download a video, you have the file on your device and you watch it again later.

This means that files are still downloaded to your computer when you are streaming, and viruses can still attach themselves to these files.

Furthermore, it is important to understand that as both legal and illegal streaming services are becoming more popular, malware and viruses are also becoming more advanced.

Although most legal, paid streaming services have built-in safeguards to protect subscribers from malicious software, viruses on other illegitimate sites or applications can easily hide in between legitimate downloads and on various pop-up and banner advertisements.

What risks do these viruses pose?

If you download files to stream a video and there is a virus or malware attached to them, this virus can infect your device and possibly also any other devices connected to the same network that your device is connected to.

Some of the risks associated with having a virus or other malware infect your device, are:

  • Having your saved credit card information accessed and stolen
  • Having your login credentials for different websites accessed and stolen
  • Having the login information to banking sites and applications compromised

Other malware, which is not as malicious, can make your device(s) much slower and open various pop-up advertisements on the device at random times.

Can you get a virus on a streaming device?

Here, it is important to note that streaming devices such as the Amazon Fire TV stick, Roku, and Apple TV are also just computers and can be infected by viruses and malware in the same way that your laptop or desktop can be infected.

Legitimate streaming platforms on these streaming devices, which are usually the services that you pay for and that do not include third-party advertisements in the application, such as Netflix, Spectrum, Hulu, and more, have built-in antivirus safeguards against viruses and malware, which should protect your streaming device(s).

However, applications that are not endorsed by the streaming device can have viruses and malicious software linked to video files or hiding between the legitimate files on streaming sites and applications.

How to avoid getting a virus from streaming a video

The best way to avoid viruses is to ensure that you are streaming from a secure site or application. However, if this is not possible, there are some additional steps that you can take to prevent these viruses from infecting your device, such as:

  • Install an AdBlock extension to your browser
  • Install anti-virus software on your device
  • Do not click on suspicious links, emails, or advertisements
  • Scan your device for malware regularly
  • Update your operating system regularly