Porn sites spread ‘malvertising’

porn-2Claims that hackers are hiding in search and not porn sites have been debunked by new research which claims many adult sites are installing harmful files on computers without users’ knowledge.
A recent report by Cisco claimed cyber criminals were hitting their targets where they were most likely to gather in numbers and were increasingly launching “combinational” attacks on search engines.
But researcher Conrad Longmore used Google’s diagnostic advice service, which regularly analyses websites for harmful content, and found embedded ads within porn site pages are to blame for the spread of so-called ‘malvertising’.
According to statistics from monitoring service Alexa, two popular sites – xhamster and pornhub – pose the greatest risk.
The data showed that xhamster – listed by Alexa as the 46th most popular site on the Internet – had malvertising on 1,067 out of 20,986 pages (5%) screened in the past 90 days.
With the average xhamster user found to look at 10.3 individual pages on every visit, there was a potential 42% risk of stumbling across harmful ads in each “session”. Another site, pornhub, was found to have dangerous advertising on 12.7% of its pages.
Longmore believes a culture of users being afraid to “kick up a fuss” means many instances of malvertising go unreported. “Part of the problem is that porn is a taboo subject,” he maintained.
“The way ads are bought and sold across all websites is incredibly complex. They 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.”
“The reality is that these are hugely popular sites with many of them in the top 100 most popular sites globally. Some of them pull in more traffic than the BBC, so this is potentially a very big issue.
“Site operators could put a quick reporting mechanism on their sites to flag up bad ads and other concerns, and ad networks should also take some responsibility here.
“I don’t see that happening any time soon, and perhaps the best thing that users of these sites can do is ensure that their machines are up to date.”

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