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GeoComply launches product targeting illicit VPN use

Geolocation security specialist GeoComply has unveiled a technology for streaming providers to take on pirate viewers.

The new technology enhancement to the company’s flagship GeoGuard product is designed to enable streaming providers to block what the company characterises as a growing number of VPN users who spoof their location using hijacked residential IP addresses.

In addition to reducing the burden on providers’ infrastructure and CDN capacity, this technology ensures video service providers comply with their contractual agreements with rights holders, according to GeoComply.

The company estimates that over 200 million internet users worldwide are unknowingly the victim of residential proxy IP abuse. Their IP addresses are used to bypass VPN restrictions and access territorially restricted content, contributing to the streaming piracy. Users sign up for a free VPN or DNS proxy service without reading the terms and conditions that allow the VPN provider to sublease the IP address allocated by their ISP to their home or business. IP addresses are also hijacked during cyber-attacks that infect a user’s device with Trojan code or malware and connect it to a botnet.

Free VPN providers profit by selling hijacked residential IP addresses to premium VPN services. These services give subscribers the ability to spoof their location using the hijacked addresses.

GeoComply cites data from Surfshark for this year that showed 31% of all internet users have a VPN, with nearly 70% opting for free services.

The company also cites GWI data that shows 51% of VPN users – equating to 700 million people – say they use a VPN to access better entertainment content, including streaming services and pay-per-view events that are either not available in their country or are more expensive locally.

GeoComply has identified 17 companies selling residential proxy IPs, including Bright Data (Luminati), Oxylabs and SmartProxy.

James Clark, general manager of media & entertainment at GeoComply, said, “A recent report from Kantar finds that more than 1.5 million fewer people now subscribe to streaming services in the UK compared to Q4 2021. More than a third of these losses could be attributed to families trying to cut costs. We believe the problem of hijacked residential IPs will only increase as viewers turn to VPNs to find cheaper subscriptions in other territories or use them to access pirated services. To combat this problem, we can now accurately detect users accessing streaming services using hijacked residential IP addresses to help uphold the territorial licensing models our customers depend on.”

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