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Internet Porn Still Biggest Threat From Malware

That bastion of email spam and the number one online search term is also the cause of much malware infection, Porn. According to a recent reports, pornography related searches and downloads are the biggest single threat to your PC, with up to 63% of people looking for pornography online being subject to some kind of infection or attempted infection of their system.

It is, of course, perfectly understandable, particularly amongst new users of the web, that, at least just once, people are going to be curious. They’ll go off to their favourite search engine, type in “porn” or other related search term and, frankly, will be overwhelmed with the volume of sites returned.

All is not as it seems, however, because, malware (viruses, trojans, spyware etc) writers are nothing if not resourceful. Understanding about social engineering has become their forte, and as such, you need to be versed in that too.

internet porn

Malware is no longer the purview of students having some, sometimes malicious, fun. It has become in and of itself big business, and malware writers are after your identity, your credit card details, your online bank information, even your personal information about hobbies and what you do for a living.

Why?

Because this information is not only a goldmine to marketers, but it is essential to getting into your life so organised criminals can steal your identity, and get loans, credit cards and more in your name. With a well placed piece of spyware, soon malware writers can know more about you that probably even you do.

So what does this have to do with porn?

As we stated at the start, malware writers have become good at social engineering, and they KNOW from experience and research that people will and do search for pornographic material online. And so, they too can provide it. With a nasty catch. As you surf by their bountiful supplies of said material, you’re opening yourself wide-open to infection from malware.

They start with the simple stuff: are you running as a user with direct “always on” administration rights on your PC? If you are, chances are they will want to install a so-called browser helper object (or BHO), of course, they’ll tell you that this is so you can use the “enhanced” functionality of the site. It won’t be. It will be a back-door into your system, allowing them to log keystrokes, download other software and start the long and slow process of collecting information from you.

Another real risk is allowing the site to download some application to let you view content offline. Don’t be fooled, this will be malware too. If the site / malware writers are really clever, it will actually help you view content offline, perhaps even installing a codec to your favourite video viewing software. You may even be given access to “extra” content (that was probably not even theirs in the first place!), but all the while, your system is now compromised.

Don’t panic, however. There are things you can do to protect yourself, and you really should do these things if you want to stay safe:

  1. Have an up-to-date antivirus system and anti-spyware software installed.
  2. Don’t surf unknown sites. Any. If you’re unsure, do an internet search about the site. But mostly if you’re unsure, don’t.
  3. Never agree to download a “special” codec or program to view content unless you’ve heard of it, and know it to be safe. If unsure, decline the download or update.
  4. Always have a back-up of your important data.
  5. Keep your computer properly patched with the latest security updates from Microsoft.

Follow these simple steps to stay safe online, no matter what your surfing pleasure.

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About Justin Bellinger

Justin is an experienced software professional, having worked in software and software security for nearly 20 years. Justin is VP of Security Products at SPAMfighter.
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