Binge-watching thieves give all-new meaning to ‘Netflix and chill’

Scores of Netflix accounts have reportedly been exposed to hacking. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: When you are at home happily binge-watching your favourite Netflix series, chances are you have unwanted company.

Go to your Netflix setting’s streaming activity page. You will be shown the details of your account usage such as the IP addresses and devices used to watch via your login.

Some Malaysian users have taken to social media with screenshots of this page to show that someone else has been leeching off their Netflix accounts.

One user in Selangor found that someone in Johor had been using his account.

A check by the Malaysian Cyber Consumer Association (MCCA), a body set up last year to advocate the rights of internet users in the country, has found that scores of Netflix accounts could have been exposed to hacking, where someone is able to log in to an existing profile and watch shows for about a quarter of the monthly fee.

These illegal users may have bought the usernames and passwords of genuine Netflix accounts for a fraction of the cost (RM10), according to syndicates operating through social media, said MCCA.

It said hackers could also have access to the details of bank cards linked to users’ accounts.

But MCCA is in the dark as to how these details could have been exposed, saying technological advancements in securing data should make it an impossible feat for even a seasoned hacker.

“Hacking the system directly is not an easy method since cybersecurity technology may overcome hacking issues,” MCCA president Siraj Jalil told FMT.

FMT has contacted Netflix for a response.

Netflix, which made its debut in Malaysia in early 2016, is available under three plans ranging between RM33 and RM51 a month depending on video quality options and number of devices.

Each account can be split into five different profiles, each with its respective watching history and preference.

A quick check online revealed offers of as low as RM10 per month.

But as with all imitation goods, there are downsides to these illegal packages, some of which are cheekily promoted as “Netflix murah” (cheap Netflix).

One of them is that accounts can only be used on one device at any given time. And there is no auto-renewal: every month, the stolen subscription must be renewed.

But that is a small sacrifice considering the access to tens of thousands of the latest series and movies on the streaming site.

One seller offering “illegal Netflix” said users may choose one of three plans: RM10, RM18 or RM30, with additional fees charged to ensure continuous “subscription” even if the password for the account being hacked is changed.

“If the hijacked user changes his password, we will provide you with a new login. You won’t get this if you didn’t pay for the warranty,” the seller said in an online chat.

Siraj called on the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission and other authorities to clamp down on the activities of such illegal Netflix “resellers”.

He said they can be charged under the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, the Computer Crimes Act 1997 and the Consumer Protection Act 1999.