1 in 4 smartphones infected by malware via porn

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Johannesburg - One in every four mobile users who encountered malware in 2017, were attacked by malicious programs that used adult content to lure them into installing it on their devices.

The statistic was revealed by cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab, which said that over 1.2 million people had fallen victim to attacks. This followed research into cyberthreats facing users of adult websites and apps.

Roman Unuchek, security expert at Kaspersky, said that although the company could not pinpoint that porn-themed mobile applications are technically very different to those that do not use porn in their activities, there are a few specifics when it comes to attacks with porn-powered malicious applications. 

“A victim who has been compromised with an adult content-enabled malicious program might think twice before reporting the incident, simply because the very fact that they were trying to find porn content is viewed critically,” he said. 

“Therefore, from the attacker’s perspective, such a person is a much more convenient victim. This is one of the reasons why we see so many attacks with porn malware. The other one is much simpler: people are consuming ever more content via mobile. This includes adult content as well,” Unuchek said.

“Sex sells, as they say in advertising. However, in cyberspace it serves not only as a method for securing sales, but also as a tool for malicious activity,” the company said. 

Kaspersky Lab experts found that the most active use of porn topics is in the mobile threat landscape. 

During the course of the research, Kaspersky specialists identified 23 families of malware that use porn content to hide their real functionality.

Research found that when downloading an unknown porn application, users are at greatest risk of being infected with so-called clickers. 

Upon infection, this malware starts to click through ad-links or try to subscribe the user to a WAP-subscription in order to drain their prepaid mobile credit.

“Banking Trojans disguised as porn video players are the second most widespread type of porn-powered malware. This is followed by rooting malware and ransomware,”  

In many cases, porn ransomware utilises scareware tactics: it locks the device screen and shows a message stating that illegal content (usually child porn) has been detected on the device, and the device has therefore been locked. In order to unlock the device, the victim has to pay a ransom. 

This message usually comes with screenshots from actual child porn videos. 

To prevent any malware or cyberfraud-related troubles when it comes to adult content , Kaspersky Lab advised users to follow these recommendations:

- Use only trusted websites when it comes to adult content. Cybercriminals often set up fake porn sites for the single purpose of infecting victims with malware.
- Do not install Android applications from unknown sources, even if they promise you access to the content you were looking for. Instead, use official applications from official sources, like Google Play.
- Avoid purchasing hacked accounts to porn websites. This is illegal and such accounts may be blocked by the time you purchase it.
- Use reliable internet security solution capable of protecting all your devices from any kind of cyberthreats.

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