While Top Gun: Maverick seems set for a historic three-day weekend, with box office opening on Memorial Day, Paramount executives have to be at least a little disappointed for one simple reason: It appears to be the new action film, the second installment in the classic Top Gun from 1986 unfortunately leaked online.
According to various online security experts spoken to [1945[1945, the movie has been posted illegally on various torrent forums and is available for download if you have the right software and know-how. Of course, and we want to make this very, very clear, it goes without saying that such acts are illegal and can get you ejected from your current Internet Service Provider (ISP), fined and even jailed in the most extreme cases become or at least get a criminal record.
Top Gun: Maverick Leak should come as no surprise
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone as many top movies have been leaked on torrent and other websites peddling such illegal content for over a decade.
In fact, it comes as a shock to me that the film wasn’t leaked before It was launched as a physical copy of the film had already been stolen. Back in September 2021, it was reported that a copy of Top Gun: Maverick was stolen from a car belonging to one of Tom Cruise’s bodyguards.
Just say no to internet piracy
Internet security experts I spoke to worry that people trying to download the film could be exposed to all sorts of Internet security risks, such as virus or malware infection, keyloggers, and even possible identity theft. “Trying to download anything from fake movie websites or torrent forums is a really bad idea for many reasons. Many people just have no idea what they are doing and could easily download a file that is really bad malware or virus. Instead of paying $20.00 to see Top Gun: Maverick in theaters – the way it was meant to be seen – it could cost them thousands of dollars in malware-related identity theft. Also, this is clearly illegal and just plain stupid,” explained a senior telecom security officer working for a major ISP who asked to speak to 1945 about the background.
Getting caught is easy
This expert also pointed out that Hollywood studios often hire outside piracy tracking companies to monitor such illegal activities and actively work to ensure that those who peddle such films and those who download them are punished.
Tracking such incidents is straightforward: when you download something from the Internet, your IP address is clearly visible, allowing the movie studios or those they contract with to target such lawbreakers by contacting them with a legal request contact the company that provides the downloader with Internet access for their information.
It’s not worth it
Various internet forums – and of course [1945[1945 cannot confirm this – note that there are now several copies of the film floating around on the Internet.
A cybersecurity expert working for another major ISP – also on condition that her name not be used – found that many alleged downloads are laden with possible viruses. “You want to avoid trying to get a bootleg movie this way. You might end up destroying your computer with a virus or getting ransomware. That `s not worth it.”
Of course, many people are still trying to avoid the theater altogether, as the COVID-19 pandemic is clearly not over and cases are rising in many parts of the nation.
So, as you can imagine, many will still try to download it – no matter the risk. But such efforts are most likely not rewarded since most of the pirated content that is put online is usually of poor quality and even worse sound. You can often see that the film was stolen via a cell phone camera – not exactly what the film’s makers intended.
And it seems that Top Gun: Maverick is no different. An online piracy and cybersecurity expert told me that a version of Top Gun: Maverick is riddled with advertisements for online gambling websites and is of very poor quality. The expert also noted that although a new version has gone online that removes the ads, the quality is still horrendous at best. “It looks worse than a ’70s TV with bunny ears,” he explained.
My advice as someone who has worked at a major ISP for over a decade and has seen countless subscribers get sued and fined for piracy is to just say no. Just go to the cinema and see it – you won’t be disappointed.
Harry J Kazianis (@ Greek formula) is President and CEO of the Rogue States Project, a non-partisan national security think tank. He held senior positions at the Center for the National Interestthe inheritance, the Potomac Foundation and many other think tanks and academic institutions focused on defense issues. His ideas have been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, CNN, CNBC, and many other outlets across the political spectrum. He has an International Relations degree from Harvard University and is the author of the book The Tao of A2/AD, a study of the modernization of the Chinese military. Kazianis also worked for a large telecommunications company for a decade before his career in national security.