Adult sites, bad on the inside?

Opinion by Dan Raywood

I had better word this correctly, but I was very interested in some research around adult websites that recently appeared on the BBC news website.

I had better word this correctly, but I was very interested in some research around adult websites that recently appeared on the BBC news website.

The article was based on research by Conrad Longmore, which evaluated several adult websites and the number of infected pages within each domain. It deemed the largest infection rate to be within the website Pornhub, which according to Google was ‘not currently listed as suspicious'. However, the research by Longmore found that of the 13,955 pages tested over a period of 90 days, 1,777 pages resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent.

Longmore's advice was pretty security standard and the reality is that this is another malvertising story, with third parties and adverts and frames being infected with malware compromising the user. The follow-up story by the BBC found that those infected were clearing the problems up, and confirmed that the number of infected pages in comparison with the total number of pages on the website was ‘minute'.

Just over a year ago I looked at whether or not adult websites were the most secure or most targeted following some high-profile data breaches, while research by Bitdefender discovered that 63 per cent of users attempting to find adult content on their computers compromised their security on multiple occasions.

Research from Blue Coat from this year found that when mobile users go to pornography sites, they have a high risk of finding a threat.

While writing that article I looked to talk to IT and security teams from major adult websites and organisations and after a lot of effort, did not succeed, but I did reach writer Patchen Barss, author of The Erotic Engine, a book about the adult industry and technology.

When asked if he felt that adult websites were leading the way in security technology, he said that it makes sense that they were as "they were pioneers in selling content online, which meant they were the first to learn how to protect their product".

Malvertising is a challenge for all different types of businesses, not just those in the darker corners of the internet, as we have seen the websites of both Spotify and Major League Baseball affected by this problem.

Longmore said that "there was clearly a problem just one week ago, there may not be a problem today, there might be a problem tomorrow, of course", suggesting that even though the adult websites have cleaned their houses up now, it may only be a matter of time before they are vulnerable to third party code.

So is the answer to not have any advertising or content that you have not created? Of course not, that is impossible, but what you can do is assess what is on your site more frequently and scan your domain when new content is added, otherwise you may be someone else's bad news statistic.


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