The threat of malware downloads from visiting adult websites has long been thought to be a major risk; however, not all studies on the subject have demonstrated that the risk is any higher than visiting other types of websites. The owners of adult websites, as legitimate business owners, have a vested interest in keeping their sites malware free.

However, new research from Kaspersky suggests the threat of malware downloads from visiting adult websites is real, and adult-themed phishing attacks increased in 2018.

Is There a High Risk of Malware Downloads from Visiting Adult Websites?

According to its latest report, there is a real risk of malware downloads from visiting adult websites. Naturally for consumers who visits adult websites, the risk is theirs to take. For businesses however, risks taken by employees can prove incredibly costly.

One of the major stories to be covered in the media on this theme in 2018 involved a government employee with a prolific thirst for such content. He was discovered to have accessed more than 9,000 adult websites and had inadvertently downloaded malware onto his work computer and the network. After visiting so many sites, that is perhaps understandable, but there have been many such malware downloads from far less prolific surfing of adult sites.

Kaspersky Lab’s research indicates that most malware downloads from malicious websites involves malware disguised as videos. Oftentimes, users are required to download a supposedly benign but malicious file in order to access the video.

Cybercriminals are also using black-hat techniques to poison the search results and get malicious sites appearing high up in the listings. The top 20% of porn-related search terms accounted for 80% of malware disguised as porn. Kaspersky’s tracking indicated 87,227 users had downloaded malware-disguised as porn and 8% of those did so via their work network.

The use of these porn tags is also common to get users to download non-malware threats such as adware and downloaders, although the latter are often capable of downloading much more malicious files.  While the number of these attacks decreased by 36% year-over-year, attacking people searching for adult content is still common.

The most common threats associated with adult content were Trojan downloaders (45%) and Trojans (20%), followed by adware (9%) and worms (8%).

Adult-Themed Phishing Attacks Increased by 1,000% in Q4, 2018

While it was previously uncommon for phishing scams to use porn as a lure, that changed in 2018. It is still common for cybercriminals to use impersonate or create fake hookup sites to lure people into divulging credentials but there was also a 1,000% increase in phishing attacks using websites that masquerade as porn websites. Most commonly these were spoofed versions of the top 10 adult sites on the web. The rise in these types of phishing scams could be indicative of a trend that will grow in 2019.

The research shows that malware downloads from visiting adult websites is still a risk and the threat from adult-themed phishing attacks has grown at an alarming rate. Businesses should take note and take steps to limit risk.

The easiest way to do that is with a DNS web filter – A solution that allows businesses to carefully control the web content that can be accessed on work devices and via their wireless networks. With a DNS web filtering solution in place, businesses can block access to adult websites, commonly spoofed hookup and dating sites, and web-based phishing threats.

Not only will a DNS web filter provide protection against phishing, ransomware, and malware downloads, by blocking access to these adult sites, legal liability can be reduced and staff issues can be avoided.

If you have yet to start filtering the internet and preventing your users from accessing adult websites, other NSFW web content, and sites that are a drain on productivity, TitanHQ can help.

For a very low cost, businesses can protect all users of their wired and wireless networks and block a wide range of web-based threats. MSPs can also start providing filtered internet service to better protect their clients.

For further information, contact TitanHQ today and ask about WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi – TitanHQ’s award winning web filtering solution for businesses.