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Porn site visitors ‘too embarrassed to report malware attacks’

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With top porn sites having recently been found to pose an increased malware threat, leading security specialists have suggested users are ‘too embarrassed’ to report the issues.

With many unwilling to attract attention to their taboo browsing habits, industry experts have suggested that the embarrassment factor could be contributing to the rise of malware threats discovered hidden within advertisements on leading porn websites.

According to a recent study by researched Conrad Longmore, adult websites xhamster and pornhub have been found the pose the greatest risk to visitors, with the two sites’ millions of daily users subjected to malicious ads which install harmful files on users’ machines without their knowledge.

“‘Drive-by downloads’, i.e. infecting visitors to websites automatically when they browse a compromised web site, is one of the most common attack methods today,” David Emm, a Senior Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab said. “Therefore, if a compromised website is very popular, the pool of potential victims is larger.”

Suggesting that the porn websites hosts are not solely to blame for the increased malware risk, Emm has claimed that those affected by the issues might not be helping themselves when it comes to reporting the attacks.

“I don’t believe they are lax per se,” the specialist said on the porn websites’ security measures. “The embarrassment factor may mean that those accessing adult content may be less likely to put pressure on the providers of such content. Providers of any online content need to make it quick and easy for visitors to report any problems they encounter while accessing their services or content.”

Adding that porn websites have become an increased target due to their high visitor numbers, Emm stated: “Those generating the malware target such avenues for the same reason that pickpockets in the real world target crowded areas, there’s a bigger pool of victims.

“Adult websites attract a lot of visitors, so there are a lot of potential victims. In addition, it’s less likely that victims will complain – either to those running the online service, or the police – because of the embarrassment involved.”

Detailing his findings in a recent report, researcher Longmore suggested that “there seems to have been a sudden spike in malware on popular sites, especially in the past week or so."

He added: "Ads can often be repackaged and resold so that it is hard to tell where they originated from, and the criminals behind them go to great lengths to disguise what they are doing.  We call these malicious advertisements ‘malvertising’”

Offering advice on how users can avoid such malware threats, Emm stated: “I believe there are three key things that people need to do. First, make sure you apply updates to all applications. This means java, Adobe Acrobat Reader and any other applications – not just Windows updates.

“Many threats spread because of vulnerabilities in unpatched software – so patching can make a big difference.”

He added: “Be careful about clicking on links. It’s like opening your front door to unsolicited callers – you don’t know what you will find. If you’re not in need of a particular product or service, don’t click on a random link advertising it. If you are, browse directly to a reputable provider of the product or service.”

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