While Top Gun: Maverick seems destined for a historic Memorial Day box-office opening three-day weekend, executives at Paramount have to be at least a little disappointed for one simple reason: it seems the new action flick, the second installment of the classic Top Gun from 1986, has been leaked online sadly.
According to various online security experts that spoke to 1945, the movie has been posted illegally in various torrent forums and is available for download if you have the right software and know-how. Clearly, and we want to make this very, very clear, it goes without saying such actions are illegal and could get you kicked off your current internet service provider (ISP), fined, and even in the most extreme cases possible put in jail or at least create for yourself a criminal record.
Top Gun: Maverick Leak Should Be No Suprise
This should take no one by surprise, as many top movies for a decade-plus now have been leaked on torrent and other internet sites that peddle such illegal content.
In fact, it is a shock to me that the movie did not get leaked before it was launched, as a physical copy of the film had already been stolen. Back in September of 2021, it was reported that a copy of Top Gun: Maverick was stolen from a car being 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 open themselves up to all sorts of internet security risks such as a virus or malware infection, keyloggers, and even possible identity theft. “Trying to download anything from bootleg 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 a bad piece of malware or a virus. Instead of paying $20.00 to go see Top Gun: Maverick in the movies – the way it should be seen – it could cost them thousands of dollars in malware-related identity theft. Plus, this is clearly illegal and just plain stupid,” explained a telecommunications security executive who works for a major ISP that asked to speak to 1945 on background.
Getting Caught Is Easy
This expert also noted that Hollywood studios many times hire outside piracy-tracking firms who monitor such illegal activities and actively work to ensure those who peddle such movies and those who download them are punished.
Tracking such incidents is straightforward: when you download anything on the internet your IP address is clearly visible, allowing the movie studios or those they have contracted with to target such lawbreakers by going to the company that supplies the downloader internet access with a legal request for their information.
Not Worth It
Various internet forums – and, of course, 1945 cannot confirm this – are noting that there are now several copies of the movie floating around the internet.
A cyber security expert who works for another major ISP – also speaking on the condition her name not be used – noted that many supposed downloads are loaded with possible viruses. “You want to avoid trying to get a bootleg movie in such a manner. You could end up destroying your computer thanks to a virus or getting ransomware. It is not worth it.”
So, as you can imagine, many will still try and download it – no matter the risk. But such efforts will most likely be not rewarded, as most pirated movies that get posted online are usually of poor quality and even worse audio. Many times you can see the movie was stolen via a cellphone camera – not exactly what the movie’s creators intended.
And it seems Top Gun: Maverick is no different. An online piracy and cybersecurity expert told me that one version of Top Gun: Maverick is riddled with ads for online gambling websites and is of very poor quality. The expert also noted that while a new version has come online that takes out the ads, the quality is still horrendous at best. “It looks worse than 1970s TV with rabbit ears,” he explained.
My advice as someone who worked at a large ISP for over a decade and saw countless subscribers get sued and fined for piracy – is just to say no. Just go to the movies and see it – you won’t be disappointed.
Harry J. Kazianis (@Grecianformula) serves as President and CEO of Rogue States Project, a bipartisan national security think tank. He has held senior positions at the Center for the National Interest, the Heritage Foundation, the Potomac Foundation, and many other think tanks and academic institutions focused on defense issues. His ideas have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, CNN, CNBC, and many other outlets across the political spectrum. He holds a graduate degree focusing on International Relations from Harvard University and is the author of the book The Tao of A2/AD, a study of Chinese military modernization. Kazianis also worked for a large telecommunication firm for ever a decade before his career in national security.