Go to a porn site, get a virus — right?

Special Projects Threats

Possibly the most common advice for avoiding computer viruses is to avoid adult sites. You’ve probably heard the tropes — dogs, fleas, porn, viruses. But is there any truth to them? Let’s investigate.

To state the obvious, adult content is rather popular. A report by SimilarWeb suggests that three of the world’s 20 most visited sites are porn-related. Two of them are breathing down the necks of front runners Facebook, YouTube, and search giants Google and China’s Baidu. And sandwiched between Instagram and Yandex, in 14th place, is PornHub. It, too, is fond of statistics and publishes annual figures for anyone interested. We were amazed to learn that in 2017 the site got a staggering 28.5 billion hits. That’s more than 81 million a day!

Do pornographic sites dream of malware?

Do adult sites really exploit their numerous visitors to spread malware? Of course not. Their creators earn money from views and all-too-familiar advertising. Viruses, Trojans, and other malicious invaders would hurt paying customers, and that’s the last thing the sites want.

Steal an audience or create their own

However, cybercriminals are not overly bothered about other people’s business models. And the popularity of XXX sites has not gone unnoticed. So every now and then they hack porn resources or the advertising platforms that host banners on them.

As a result, fans of adult clips are lured onto “dating sites” that coax them into coughing up confidential data or downloading fake apps that steal everything on the sly.

Now, malicious porn sites do exist — sites created to defraud or infect visitors. But they tend to be small-scale, not well-known. And then there are players and other apps for viewing adult content that phish for data. Needless to say, you won’t find them in official stores.

And malicious activity is hardly specific to porn. The key is demand. Scammers apply the same techniques to anything that attracts lots of viewers or downloaders. Malware also worms its way into media sites, Google ads, and even forked projects on GitHub. And sites pretending to offer the technical support services of IT companies such as Microsoft are fairly common.

Android malware is out there as well, and 25% of it is porn-related — not an insignificant proportion by any stretch. But the flip side is that the remaining 75% has nothing to do with adult content, so it would be reckless to think you are 100% safe just because you don’t have any porn related apps on your smartphone.

To sum up

What have we learned? The dangers you need to avoid on porn sites are not too different from those you might encounter anywhere else in cyberspace. And that means the protection measures are the same:

So is it fact or fiction that all malware comes from porn?

Fiction. There is indeed a risk of infection on porn sites and adult content apps, but that’s also true for sites completely unrelated to porn. Whatever you’re looking for, using common sense will help you avoid problems. Keep in mind, though, that you can get much further with common sense _and_ reliable protection